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Poetry—John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, “Leaves On Pages” “Memory Outside The Head” and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Ellipsis, Blueline and International Poetry Review.


No need to say any more.

Thats that.

Ill wash it all down with vodka,

curl up on the couch,

and fall asleep.

My skin agrees.

So do my gasps.

Saturday was actually impossible.

I am the first to admit.

(The last as well)

Only dreams are possible.

Ill follow their lead.

leave the grand adventures, the holy grails,

to my sub-conscious.

Its better equipped for the task.

Instead of stories no one will believe,

just the imaginary, the unreal.

(The ones that only I need to know.)

Otherwise, Im a fictional character.

A what-might-have-been.

A quest undone 

by having to live in this world.

An argument.

An assumed language.

A bet that can never pay off.

Rooms full of people 

with too much wax in their ears.

Like Im Ulysses, the book by James Joyce.

And these others are more used 

to reading twitter.

Ive been mistaken.

No one else wonders the same thing.

Everything but what I say

is true.

Becausewell it just is.

Its all postmodern out there.

So my status is questionable to begin with.

I ought to know better.

Instead, I sleep.

Its the only way I can prevent myself.


I am still in love

because I continue to think about the play itself,

not the out of control director,

not the bad rehearsal.

Because there is a stone pier jutting out into the sea.

The breeze is light.

And the eyes of the fishermen have disappeared into the backs of their heads.

And I am bringing up the subject of house

as I struggle to keep my thoughts orderly.

It's a constant corkscrew of a house.

When I go up, I'm forever passing myself coming down.

I chew my lip

and it feels as stiff as a piece of cardboard.

She is no help.

Her large, clear cobalt eyes

cannot beyond that helpless look.

It makes me want to scale the wall

and then scramble like a spider

across the ceiling.

Mostly, life feels as if

I have written a poem

that was very good

and I had lost it

and would never remember it again

So I polish an apple with my handkerchief

Thankfully, I have an appetite like a horse


In the pinball traffic of the highway,

I drive as prudently as possible,

but I cant say the same

for all the other drivers;

in another

lifetime, I may already have been 

sideswiped by a truck 

and swatted into the median strip.

In this other life,

I could be a twisted body

in a mangled car,

blood dripping down my eyes,

lungs trolling for the next breath.

And maybe weve yet to meet.

Maybe this would have been the day

except the truck blotted out the future.

Thats why I am relieved

when I pull into the driveway,

and I see your face in the kitchen window.

Relieved that I survived another rush hour.

Relieved that other lives dont impinge,  

merely indulge me.


Nothing's what it was.

They are not who they used to be.

In the last years,

people and current circumstance

meet somewhere in the middle

in something called unintended indiscretion.

There are confessions to be made

years after bad things happened.

Their tongues have gone soft.

Their ears are blighted.

This is the best of times

for telling and hearing the worst.

A couple would no more break up now

as plot to assassinate the nurses.

So he cheated.

So she drank.

So her gold watch wasn't stolen -

he pawned it.

So she drowned his favorite tabby.

There's nothing here for regret

to get excited about.

They sit on the veranda

at the assisted living facility.

From time to time,

they even lock hands.

Now that the truth's out in the open,

it goes without saying.


One speech was reserved.

Another was tactless.

A third refused to acknowledge the existence

of anyone under ten years old.

There was also the high-pitched fluty kind,

and the worded growl 

like a Doberman that spoke English.

Most of it was aimed over my head.

Sometimes garbled.

Sometimes at a gallop.

Sometimes so slow,

I had my doubts that it ever reached anothers ear.

There was even a line or two

that, I later learned, were meant to be flirtatious.

And some, finding their way down to me,

were as condescending 

as a drunken slur towards women.

One speech worked its way around

a cigar stuffed into a fat mouth.

I saw it through a cloud of smoke. 

I heard it in spittle.




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