Poems by John Grey

Pic by Sunil Damor



Among the Flowers

alight on my fingertip.

fresh from its cocoon,
the black and gold butterfly
chooses the nearest flower
over the poet,
though a wing almost touches
as it flutters by.

I could sketch its moment
in the warm June sun,
turn humble flight
into grand soaring,
purpose into grace,
pollen into gold.

But the butterfly
has a beauty,
so short-lived,
it can’t be wasted
on immortality.


Those Summers at the Lake

Leaves seem less confident in their greenness.
Red squirrels bury more than they cat.
Robins still dig for worms.
But, more than that, they commit
this stretch of land to memory.

For, soon enough, summer starts unraveling,
cold’s malevolent wind intervenes,
at dawn and dusk,
between sun and skin.
The dark takes on a starkness.

The lake senses this.
Its sheen quakes like a shy girl’s veil.
Our canoe bobs anxiously
as we cast our lures in final hope
of reeling in the largemouth bass
that swim beneath.
Lines drag. The worm’s deceit has no takers.
Oh well. The object of fishing
is not necessarily to catch something.
We haul ourselves out
as the light retreats
and ghosts and gnats are all that’s biting.

The dock creaks like a giant’s arthritic knees.
The wood is soaked with old fish smells.
Empty creels are dragged homeward
where a wood stove awaits
a freezer full of store-bought fish.
The drop in temperature leaves no doubt.
Another summer has gone.

Fall, then winter –
I wonder if any good will come of them.


Our Amazing Journey

We ride the vehicle
that ferries us around the sun.
Thankfully, we’re not required
to steer nor navigate.

And, for further delight,
the vessel spins slowly on its axis,
provides variety: night, day, sun, moon,
clouds and stars.

With no risk to us,
we set about doing other stuff.
We marry, have kids.
You vacuum the carpets.
I take out the trash.
We make ourselves a home
within a home.

We’ve placed a lifetime bet
on God or physics
or some benevolent combination of the two.

Their greatest gift
is that it feels like
it was ours to begin with.


A Funeral

It’s a gathering of people.
at the church,
by the gravesite.

It’s shared tears, hugs,
catching up with those
you only ever see
in cemeteries.

It’s standing solemn
while the priest
conducts the ritual.

It’s a return to the house
of the bereaved
for nibbles and nurture.

It’s late night,
a solitary voice
sobbing or screaming.

It’s echo,
long and keening,
through a half-dozen
empty rooms.


To the Great Blue Heron

A great blue heron shows up –
a buffy gray throat
and wide blue wings,
and long, thin hardy legs
like two-thirds of a tripod.

So light of step,
it can intrude on the pond
without the water knowing.
So keen of eye,
no morsel is safe.
So quick of movement,
it can spear a fish
as slick as a frog tongue’s zap.

All birds are capable
in their own way.
But I see a great blue heron
and I immediately think
patterns and particulars,
bearing and behavior,
fossicking and feeding.
There’s nothing I can do about this.


About the Author

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 the McNeese Review, Rathalla Review and Open Ceilings.