Poems by John Grey



We Risk Takers

It’s snowing in the city.

I dig your car out

so you can risk your life

on pot-holed black-ice roads.


You’re on your way

to making sure

you don’t get charged

one of your few vacation days.


I stay behind with a book,

a light at my elbow,

a pane of glass

cracking with flakes.


From time to time,

1 pray under my breath

you make it where

you’re going safely.


But there’s a risk in

everything these days.

Though, I’m curled up comfortably,

who knows if my heart is.


And cells can change

to malignant on a dime.

Or a truck plow through a house.

Or a boiler blow.


So drive carefully.

We need the money

though, of course,

we need our lives more.



Matthew instills in his brood

this love of nature…

more than that, its symmetry,

how blade of grass and deer

are one,

how winter is a healing

as much as any spring.

He impresses on them

the provisions, the demands,

of all around them.


He strums an old dulcimer

that’s tuned to his good ear,

sings of the past,

that other threatened ecosystem.

Despite distractions from the newness,

the children take the time

for what is old.


And then there’s night sky,

the clear bright introductions:

Cepheus and Draco,

Lacerta and Cassiopeia.

He points

and children ride his finger.

Matthew’s to be listened to,

to be wondered at.

He’s fathered children

and stars besides.


Uncle Joe Can’t Rock the Rocker

Slowly something from the hands is gone.
Now feeling comes up to the fingers
silently, without a body, lingers pointlessly
like green in winter grass.
A warbler whistles at the window
but no one asks the ears to dance.
Its wings fan out against the sun
but eyes see only whiteness, bones.
Memories are such a tattered tapestry.
Even the childhood stitches fray.
And people in the present are strict teachers,
bullying with love.
Can’t pull up the anchor of the moment.
Can’t leave the body behind.
He’s a gloomy portrait in its frame,
surrounded by the blur of brushes.


About the author:

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.