Poetry: John Grey

John Grey

Near sundown,
he's slumped in a chair
outside the trailer,
running fingers down
his Rottweiler's throat.
Head's riddled with
recent flashbacks:
fight in a bar,
loud argument over the
mechanic's bill
for his pick-up,
Rogue gnawing
the mailman's leg,
mother's cancer,
screaming match
with the blowzy divorcee
in her cheap tight clothes
and too much make-up
and over what?
a burnt piece of toast.
TV's on
but no one's watching.
Second beer
floats a hard day laying bricks.
He don't like himself so much.
He's a drunk. He's wild.
He's got no respect for anyone
or anything.
Just don't come around here
and remind him.
Both man and dog
can growl and bite if they have to.
They're big and savage enough
to tear themselves limb from limb.


The mare is frightened by a car horn.
The handler loses control.

Next thing, that poor beast is
darting in and out of traffic.
Drivers fear for the horse, their cars,

The handler pursues the mare,
swerving and careening,
on the trail of that
wild-eyed, now terrified animal.

It stumbles from the road,
crashes into a fence.
Luckily, it doesn't damage
any part of its fragile leg.

Ten feet or so from the horse,
he's talking softly now,
encouraging, loving,
struggling to calm the animal.

Then with three frenetic bounds.
he reaches the dangling rein, grabs and holds.
The mare’s head is down, apologetic,
For all she knows, she never did run free.


The relentless forest fire
razed a hundred houses in its path.
The mud-slide demolished four.
And seven sailed away
when the river overflowed its banks.
And there was a tornado in the Midwest
that creamed an entire estate.

A woman died in a terrible crash
out on the freeway.
Another was battered to death
by her live-in boyfriend.
A man bled to death in a work accident.
A roadside bomb in Iraq exploded
killing five marines.

Some days, I figure this house
is lucky to be still standing.
And why do we survive
when so many others don't?

But here we are, within these four walls,
two of us, hugging, kissing.
That's what comes of not being the news.


sleep from within

how did that darkness
get here?

and dreams

following me around
long after the alarm goes off
and I trudge
my way
to coffee and shower –

what is it about 
the unconscious
and its cousin the subconscious
that they need more time
to accomplish
what they set out to do –

has its own daily duties
to perform - 

first up
is convincing itself
that it’s reality


He thought not washing for three days
was romantic,
that standing outside Lisa's window
at 3 A.M. and screaming her name,
was romantic also,
and tossing pebbles at the pane,
was about as romantic
as it could ever get
short of not washing for six days,
calling out her name through a megaphone,
throwing boulders at the glass.
She thought her going back home to mother
would inspire him to be more romantic,
that her sitting up in bed at night
unable to sleep,
would somehow fuel his distant romance,
that thinking she heard her name
in the dead of night
was just the echo if him saying it
miles from there,
energizing a romantic streak he didn't know
he had.
And he couldn't be more romantic, she figured,
than if he was actually outside
her window, calling her name,
tossing pebbles to attract her attention.
Ah romance,
she opened that window wide
to usher it inside.
And that’s when she caught the smell.
And a pebble hit her right between the eyes.
And the noise was deafening.

Bio: John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Poetry Salzburg Review and Red Weather. Latest books, “Covert” “Memory Outside The Head” and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Washington Square Review, Rathalla Review and Open Ceilings.

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