Poetry: John Grey

* Author of the Month *
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Evening Street Review and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Harpur Palate, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.


The grocery store’s going out of business.
No more apple cider vinegar,
bright red cherries,
mayo made from avocado oil.
I used to shop there once a week.
Now I have to look farther afield
if I’m to continue to healthily feed myself.

The sign in the window says it all.
What I lose in free time
I gain in miles driven.
And who knows if my new store
will stock
that apple cider vinegar,
or if their cherries will be freshly picked.
And what are the odds
that their buyers won’t know
an avocado from a kiwi fruit?

Large colorful slabs of cardboard
make me nervous now.
Place them somewhere visible
and change is sure to follow.
And not for the better.

Please, I beg my wife,
my family. my friends,
the people I work for –
whatever you do,
don’t put a sign in your window.

For now, I’m grabbing what I can
from rapidly depleting shelves.
Good practice for later in my life
when the signs are everywhere.


Moonlight set me up.
I figured it for brighter than it was.
I thought I'd see into the face,
go right to the heart of the mood,
hear only truth,
shower myself in the pale glow
of awareness.

But it just shone
like a bulb shines.
Like a candle but without
the waxy drip.
Its myths are meaningless.
It can't even turn touch into believable
let along grow hair on a man in moments,
turn him into a werewolf.

Angela, Christine, Monique -
it's as fake as the neon advertising clubs.
It's just another billboard in the sky
trying to sell me something.
It can't fuel romance for all its beaming.
It merely backdrops opportunity.
All those nights,
every one of those phases,
are as forgotten as birth.

Moonlight was all over books
and poetry.
Even in the movies,
it joined to lake
to blind with vision.

I drove to the lookout.
I walked the lanes.
I sat on the porch.
All the best viewing spots.
Under orders from moonlight apparently.
Love, when it finally took hold,
was more about blood and bile and scar and sweat
than dead rocky satellites,
It happened on a moonless night I believe.


In early fall,
under the trees,
I pluck an apple
from the overhead branch,
place it in the-curve
of her small smooth palm.

She's lovely and barefoot,
her sleeveless dress,
a floral setting for her summery arms.
Petite and well-shaped, she calls the apple.
I know no other description of her.

My mother, down below in the backyard,
is pegging clothes to a sagging wire line.
She looks up at her son
and the one who could someday carry him off,
can't help noticing
how the young girl
cherishes the shiny red orb,
presses it to her chest.
And all because her boy
picked, that fruit at its peak.

I lean over, kiss her cheek.
She trembles but doesn't let go her apple.
She wants to eat it later
but remember it now.


The car is dead.
Deader than Scrooge's partner Marley.
Deader than Bob Marley.
So my head is under the hood,
this meeting place for my ongoing ignorance.
I'm making like some guys I know,
move this, juggle that, tighten three bolts
and call me in the morning.
But the end result is still me:
the manifold is what?
the engine block is who?
This is what comes of having no father:
no automobile as a second language classes
in my far away formative years.
I throw up my hands before this metal corpse.
Have to call Triple A if I want this beast to move.

Later, I'm on the couch with my wife.
Here, I'm better trained,
having grown up in a house of women
and read every classic love story
in the English, Romantic and Germanic languages,
and seen "Casablanca" at least a dozen times.
And yet, for all my doctorate in love,
I'm still a piston short here,
a cylinder missing there,
in really knowing all there is to know
about the other sex.
A hug, no problem.
A kiss, start your engines.
A mild criticism...
she snaps, "Don't get me started."

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