Friday, January 26, 2018

More Poems By John Grey

John Grey is an Australian born poet, works as financial systems analyst. Recently published in International Poetry Review, Chrysalis and the science fiction anthology, “Futuredaze”with work upcoming in Potomac Review, Sanskrit and Osiris.


The couple at the door
wore dark clothes.
She figured they were selling something.
Or hoping to convert her.
She had no money to buy.
And she was contented in her own church.
But she liked to talk.
So she opened up to them.
Once inside, they told her that her son was dead,
shot by person or persons unknown.
She collapsed in a chair.
She had always dreaded this day.
And here it was.
The only consolation was that
there could be no days like this ever again.
She only had one child.
From then on,
people at the door would only
be trying to sell her something
or to convert her.
“Just let them try,” she said.  


He can't remember
when he didn't need a drink.
It might have been that time
when his ex sent him to rehab.
For that cruel week,
it wasn't need but craving.

He drinks.
First thing in the morning
he lights a cigarette -
yeah he smokes too -
then he's out into a world
whose main function is
to quench his undying thirst.

He passes guys sweeping the sidewalk
in front of the shops
or setting up fruit
fresh from the market
in display boxes.
They're getting ready to open,
for their day to begin.

It's no different for him.
There's always a tavern waiting,
always someone who has
to plop down on a stool
front and center to the bartender
while ordering the first one of the day.

He survives off a settlement for a car accident.
He nibbles on whatever's
in the jar on the counter.
He hasn't seen his ex in years
and, by noon, it's like
he's never seen his ex.

Twelve midday -
the hour sounds heavy but he's weightless.
Totally out of it.
Doing, feeling, remembering nothing.
He finds his life works best when it's unlived. 


When a woman enters,
guys sit around,
hands on chins,
scrutinizing her.

One will point to a detail,
breasts say,
and whisper something like,
"They're fake."

Another will respond,
"So what/'

A third will pay attention her legs.
A fourth, her ass.

In time, every body part
will be broken out from the rest of her,
discussed, dehumanized,
then put back in place.

Five minutes after
a woman enters,
she's a whole being again.
In fact, she can't remember a time
when she wasn't.


The vinyl seats have been around forever
but then again so has the waitress.
They're patched with duct tape.
Makeup covers her rips and tears.

The menus, sticky with maple syrup,
haven't changed in years
Even the daily specials,
advertised in chalk on a blackboard,

are the same liver and onions
as the day before and the day before that.
The customers are mostly old-timers and cops,
plus a few strays off the nearby highway.

From the biscuits and gravy,
the tasteless western omelet,
to the rancid coffee in mismatched cups,
local color is showing its age.


In a city where stuff had to get done,
he labored in stone or steel or wood,
whatever was put before him,
no flashes of inspiration,
just droning hours
like a sealed box with him inside it.

He was a body
with a hole
through which to feed and water
and a spirit that lived downstairs
all those years,
and never once took the elevator to the top.

His day was a straight line
from the expresso machine in the morning
to a head on the pillow at night
without a feel for beauty to lead him astray.
Imagination's loss
was perpetual motion's gain.


Just graduated,
piece of paper,
now what?

after every unanswered question
time begins again -

it has nothing more in mind
than to make me slightly older.

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