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.
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 quest undone
by having to live in this world.
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
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;
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.
AGE SEVEN, IN A ROOM WITH SPEECH
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 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.