Poems by John Grey
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Penumbra, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, “Leaves On Pages” and “Memory Outside The Head” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Lana Turner and Held.
People in the Flood Plain Town
They delight in showing me
high water marks.
Here, this notch in the hardware store door,
that's where the flood peaked.
And put your nose to this carpet,
you can still smell what happened
five years ago this June.
Sure, out come the photo albums,
memories from sepia
to glossy first birthday of the latest child.
But disasters too have their
a bubble in paint,
the sudden color change in wood stain.
We were all younger then, they smile,
when a box of blemished snapshots from the seventies
is dragged up from the cellar.
But dryer now, they add,
to explain the water
Not knowing how the butterfly measures distance.
I creep in closer as its black and gold wings
flutter through the garden, floating some, alighting more,
a nectar seeker in a color barrage of open flowers.
Maybe it sees me not at all
or its eyes quickly determine
Im five hundred butterflies away.
I come so close,
the insect almost brushes my face.
But I am not worth bothering its proboscis.
I contain no sugars, no salts,
and most of all, no pollen.
And Im not a predator,
merely an observer.
There is no instinct in the natural world for that.
I too am an Immigrant
This is not my first time coming here
but now, I enter by a different door.
The way forward is not blocked
but locks shut tight behind me.
I didnt come by this freedom easily.
Ive been inspected, evaluated,
checked for lice, and communicable diseases.
And Im steered through some tight passengers
where Im watched, even sniffed, by someone
at every turn.
But, with a passport and visa
branded like cattle,
I finally find my way into the country.
The sun is bright.
I rub my eyes.
Its my daybreak.
But traffics busy.
People push and shove.
Its everybody elses noon.
Regarding the Butterfly
One person dies.
But theres who knows how many
victims of that death.
Even beyond the mourning
friends and relatives,
the convenience store
sells one less daily newspaper,
the old woman on her porch
is down a friendly wave,
even the scruffy neighbors dog
that looks forward to a pat
will be, from now on,
until it too dies.
One person dies
and theres a fender-bender that doesnt happen,
a snowy driveway that goes un-shoveled,
a coughing fit unheard,
a carrot in a backyard garden that
will shrivel away before its ever picked.
None of us,
not even the monk, the hermit,
is free of the butterfly effect.
One person dies
and that changes the course of everything.
my tears are for Carolyn.
Somewhere, sometime, down the road,
someone will drown in them.
My Life (The Factors Involved)
My lifes always grabbing me by the arm,
dragging me in the opposite direction
to where I thought I was going.
Like into the carnage, the flames.
The teeth of the snapping dog.
The slap on the face for no reason.
The whereabouts of my nemesis.
The unexplained throb,
My life is never satisfied
with what ought to happen.
So it drops me in the middle
with what does happen.
Body broken up.
Rainbows merely shades of gray.
Not that I blame my life.
Not while Im the one living it.
From One to Another
Nothing much happening here.
Just been recycling my lack of confidence.
Taking my shyness to a whole other level.
Folding and refolding my doubts.
Sandblasting my self-image.
Wouldnt describe it as loneliness.
Its more like no one I know
can imagine being with me
at this very moment.
Or any moment for that matter.
I know. I know.
I should be more positive.
But you know how it is.
At least, I hope you do.
Otherwise, you wont bother reading this.