Poems by John Grey

Pic by Steve Johnson



A Rose by its name only

This is it –
a rose,
not quite pink,
not quite yellow,
but both at once,
and red and white besides.

Awed by its beauty,
sniffing its seductive perfume,
feeling the sateen softness
of its petal,
it really is
the most beautiful thing
I have ever been
this close to.

I wish it wasn’t.


Early Evening in the Adirondacks

A strain of moonlight
threading June mountain greenery
wind partnering with maple branches,
a lake electrified by stars –
the view is a sketch
awaiting a canvas.

Come inside, you say,
from the doorstep.
It’s our two room rental
versus the Adirondack outdoors.
You set yourself up
as an alternative to landscape.

A strain of moonlight
threading your deftly etched green eyes,
wind partnering with shoulder-length brown hair,
a face electrified by feelings within –
wait no more,
your artist is here.


The beasts in charge

The boogie man
slipped out from under your bed,
figured that frightening you
and you only
was barely worth his time.

Same with the monster in the closet.
One “boo” per night
was unworthy of his terrifying talents.

So they started up companies.
They ran for government.
They found themselves
camera-facing jobs
on cable news networks.

Now your bedroom
is the world.
Pretty scary, huh?


Dating a king

He will spare you the equality, the democracy.
He’s a king and that’s that and all that’s left for you
to do is to praise him.
He has cornered all the riches.
Armies sack towns for him.
Defend your precious possessions with your life,
they still end up in his overflowing coffers.
Better you give it up willingly
before your village is burned to the ground.

Actually, you prefer to bask in royalty.
Average guys give off so little light.
Stick a crown on their heads
and, if it didn’t topple off,
they’d whisk it away while your back was turned,
replace it with a baseball cap.

And maybe you’ll get to be a queen
though their fate in history
chills you deep down in your petticoats.
A King bored with his swain
is a throat on the chopping block.

But there’s always a chance the sovereign goes senile
and you become the power behind the throne,
consulting with your prime minister,
sending out your armies to wipe the steppes of the northern hordes.
The most handsome of the knights would be your lovers.
And maybe a footman here and there.
Any issue you’d convince your demented Lord was obviously his,
despite them being the spitting image of Sir Lancelot.

Meanwhile, another Joe from the neighborhood
is on the doorstep,
wants to ask you out.

You tell him that you’re seeing somebody…
mainly yourself in royal robes.


Moira at 83

You’re no longer who you were.
Understandably so.

Your insides have worn you out,
Your rough edges are now scales.

Yet, there’s still matters to attend to
in your life.

The garbage needs taking out.
The washing machine is hungry for a load.

But there’s more important duties
to be carried out,
the kind that hold you up to the light.

Call your daughter in San Francisco.
Leave flowers at your mother’s grave.
Even see the doctor about that lump on your shoulder.

With any luck, he’ll say,
you’re no longer who you were
but you’re not, as yet, a cadaver.

You could even take a cruise.
Or ride up and down an escalator at least.
Or go see an old friend,
preferably one who’s worse off than you.

After all,
the past can’t be a comfort.
It doesn’t exist.
It’s just an illusion,
the price you pay for having memory.

You’re still alive.
Listen to your heart beat,
your lungs breathe.
You haven’t been misled.


About the Author

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