Three Poems – By John Grey

Pic by Dziana Hasanbekava


When They Drop Like Flies

Dies suddenly…the phone rings…
it’s this one or that one…somebody…
the diabetic, the guy with cancer,
add them to the list of all I’ve lost.

I need index cards to keep track.
Don’t want to drop in on somebody
who passed away the year before last.
It might be simpler to keep

a list of those still breathing.
So many I won’t drink wine with,
talk over old times, meet up with
in the street saying,

“Jesus, how long has it been.”
They’re close. They’re mere acquaintances.
They’re someone I barely knew.
But the fate is the same.

Dies suddenly…the phone rings…
maybe if I don’t answer…
the answering machine can deal with
the one less answering machine in the world.


Looking The Part

His wife is wondering which dress she should wear to the funeral.
It’s not the same as for christenings. Something murky. But what?
She doesn’t want to look as if she’s happy to be there.
But her most somber outfit is a light gray.
Not even dark enough to make a rain cloud.

His theory is to don the kind of garb he’ll be
decked out in when it’s his time in the coffin.
And to hang in there with a somber face
while most everyone else is gone over the brink of tears.
And, of course, be attentive to the widow.
But don’t mention how, when his insurance pays up,
she can take some of those trips she always dreamed of.

It takes a lot of planning, of preparation.
It’s like a wedding only no gift is expected.
Life is precious but it’s also well regulated.
That’s why she appears as dull as she can manage.
And he’s in a black suit, his expression like
a resume for a job at the undertaker’s.

The dead man is a distant cousin they haven’t seen in years.
But his part in the ritual is easy. A simple burial.
Theirs is the hard part – being in attendance.


My Blind Date For This Evening

I’d almost forgotten
this stereotype:
to accost others
for the failings of former lovers.

And here you are
reminding me I’m no clean sheet
but can you pass
the breadbasket please.

You are invading the privacy
of this guy who
is not here to suffer for
his human failings

but to do my share to promulgate
this novelty of strangers meeting
over a three-course meal
and a bottle of wine.

I am sorry that so-and-so
hurt you without cause.
And that he reminded you of me
even before we met just now.


About the Author


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Soundings East, Dalhousie Review, and Connecticut River Review. His latest book, “Leaves On Pages” is available through Amazon.