Poems by John Grey

Pic by Anni


Touch and Shine

Sinuous sun lowers like a bucket
into the well,
to rise again when earth’s turn
pulls the handle.

Who knows which stars
are angel’s eyes
or why the breezes
so lightly touch my person.

Too many questions
nuzzle in conflicting lights.

Why does shadow make faces?
Why is a stain
a family group photo?

Dust sparkles.
Moths choose a bulb for their compass.

Angels get down on working woman’s knees.
Pale, obtuse,
their wings off-duty,
their garments clinging like skin.


An Explanation for the Dipping Bird

I apologize.
I just can’t help myself.
My face keeps bobbing
up and down your throat
like one of those of these dipping birds.

Let me explain my problem.

You see, first water evaporates
from the miasma
you create in my head,
thereby cooling it.
This temperature drop condenses the gas,
decreases the vapor pressure
relative to that in the abdomen.
Greater stress down below
shoots fluid up through the neck
and into the noggin
which, in turn, makes me top heavy.
So I dip. My mind is flooded.
My loins are no longer full.
Did I say loins? I meant abdomen.

Anyway that leads to a series of bubbles popping
up through my body and into my head
and these drain the liquid which flows
back into the abdomen,
which then makes me bottom-heavy.
so I tip back up.

You don’t seem satisfied with my explanation.
I’m sorry.
Science never could take “no”
for an answer.


A Moment Alone

You light up a cigarette
behind the old barn
as the clocks in the house
tick toward midnight.

Everybody went to sleep
thinking you were asleep.

But your back is parked
against the slant of the rear wall,
as your legs stretch into the damp grass.

All you could scrounge up
was half a cigarette
but it still gets you excited.
Like the half moon directly above.
And the dark fields
that fold up into a patch of forest.

It’s like being at the edge of the world,
in thrall to something forbidden.
On a second attempt, you light a match.
The cigarette flames
then settles into a glow.
For a moment, you admire the red circle.
But then you put the filter to your lips,
with one inhalation, one puff out,
add ten years to your measly thirteen.

With everyone in bed
in a house you cannot see,
you can forget the way it is.
The moment is strictly between your fingers.

You don’t need them.
You don’t need the room they made for you,
the mattress, sheets and blankets.
You don’t need their protection, their support,
the slaps on the back, the hugs. .
Until you stub the last of the cigarette
out on the ground…
and then you do.


Regarding Reincarnation

The short term is this thing
in the mirror
and the long term is dust
but maybe, in the even longer term,
the dust rises and conjoins with other dust
and we get to do this over again.

Now I’m not saying I’ll be me
and you’ll be you.
We could be spread throughout
a million new people.
We might even be part tree.
Or molecules of insects.

You squish up your face.
I can tell you’re not liking this theory.
You’d rather we be delivered whole
to paradise.

In most cases you favor
science over religion
but you reckon
the latter does a much better job
when it comes to love.

But maybe our love turns to dust
so it can be recycled into
the loves of others.
It’s not heaven
but when is it ever?


About the Author

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in That, Muse, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Thin Air, Dalhousie Review and the Dunes Review.