Poetry: John Grey

John Grey

In vain, scour the ashes.
Your fingers will tell you
the village is dead.
And the last of it
finds refuge in your nails.

Look around you.
Bird bodies are scattered
among fallen trees.
Even the ones
that sang at sunrise.

The well is poisoned.
Smoke clouds drift aimlessly above.

Listen close to what the ghosts are saying.
You will hear no tales of heaven.


If you. were expecting
a fiery eye-like orb than think again.
I am not a creator.
But I have been known to take a plunger
to plugged drains
with almost immediate results.

I can't spark lumps of clay
into walking around people.
But you should see me
replacing washers in taps.

I can light a match
after several failed attempts
but awakening fire
is out of my league.
I am just not a god.
Of course, some of my
super-tight lid unscrewing
could be considered god-like.

You explain
that you weren't looking for someone
who could shine in darkness,
mutate coal into alchemical gold,
but just wondered if I was capable
of fathering a child someday.

I see procreation
as the great spermatic seeding
of fields ripe for germination.
Somewhat of a reach for me, I expect.

As for sex though,
there is always my adroitness with the plunger
to consider.


He’s in touch with long ago,
is a purveyor of bygones.
He’s there with the people,
stands side by side with kings.
He can smell their armpits,
the perfumes in their wigs.

The clash of steel is war to him,
not drones over the desert.
It’s not a political argument
unless it ends in a duel.
And the thing to be avoided 
like the plague, is the plague.

He spends more time 
in the library than in bed.
The dustier the tome, the better.
He takes down more notes
than an orchestra arranger.
All are manna from the past.

He’s keen on yesterday
like it’s a beautiful woman
but the day before 
is even more lovely.
And the day before that
he undresses in his mind.

In fact, the decades grow sexier 
the more time hits reverse.
Take him back two centuries 
and he can’t keep it in his pants.
His pen, that is.
And a sheet of blank paper.


I was driving north
from West Palm Beach to Orlando
when that page from my nature book
finally came to life —
a bobcat at the side of the road,
though dead, looking so unhurt.
A little weepy,
a mite curious,
I slowed down,
explaining in my head that
my car, for all its six cylinder bravado,
was innocent.
The cat was surely hit
by a vehicle at night -
a bump that barely stirred
the guy from his country radio.
At least it wasn't squashed,
It somehow made its way to the verge,
retained its perfect form:
prime material for the taxidermist.
I'd imagined bobcats
as too alert and quick-footed
for the likes of traffic,
but when it's hunting,
its cunning may not stretch beyond
that furtive intended prey.

Though at its end, 
propped up by a small ditch, 
in roadside grass, 
it seemed as large as life. 
But on these roads, 
anything can pass for life: 
a man's passing sorrow, 
even fast-moving metal.

BIO: 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.

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