• John Grey

Selected Poetry by John Grey


Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Dictator's Second Thoughts

I’m exhausted by the sight

of people huddled together,

waiting for their next instruction.

I’m weary of them

doing everything I say.

I’m bored with reflexive responses

And I’ve had it with those

who cannot think for themselves.

I only need to step into the midst

of my followers

and they bow down

to my god-like presence.

It’s demeaning.

It’s troubling.

If only I wasn’t enjoying this

so much.

Separation Anxiety

My thoughts are of you tonight

as I stroll east side streets,

casting my shadow with the trees,

humming something

I can’t put a name to,

looking up, now and then,

at the grinning half-moon.

In my imagination fatigue,

I’m looking around for images,

a flower, a bat, a flag,

go right by the neighborhood bar,

though there might be the answer.

What high regard I hold you in.

Especially at night,

when I’m the only one on foot.

Sure, there’s the occasional face

in the window.

But it’s never my face.

Not yours either.

So where are you exactly?

The other side of the country?

Venice beach?

Sunning on the sand?

Checking out the muscle men?

These are all opposites of how

I remember you.

But you changed.

And, when it comes to change,

who knows if, like time,

it ever has a stop.

So where am I going exactly?

Not toward home

though my door is the

only one open to me.

On some kind of

absurd odyssey perhaps

that ends when my legs plead,

“No more.”

I blame America.

It’s too wide, has far too many coasts for its own good.

It can not only separate people

by circumstance

but by miles as well.

It contains states as

small as Rhode Island,

as large as California.

But its people know no borders

Vacation Time

One’s arranged on the sand,

jeweled and reddening

A crab clasps her ankle.

Another is sniffing the frangipani.

A father dunks a young son’s head

like a baptism.

Old woman at the tiki bar,

is sipping on a drink,

her tongue deftly

avoiding the umbrella.

Each breath draws salt from the air,

this aquamarine realm,

where grown men leap

about like children

and you run up the sand to me

with slick wet steps.

If it wasn’t so hot,

I’d ask you to dance.

Instead, I hold you still and smiling,

leave all tourists behind

with a sustained hug.

In my dream,

I would reverse this film

then roll it forward, over and over.

Those are the kind of home-movies

that shine in my subconscious.

So many people take selfies

with the ocean,

no matter who

drowned in its depths.

Maybe when they look at the result,

they’ll see a vision,

a departing spirit.

Maybe not.

A young woman reclines,

before her man,

like an odalisque concealing little

of her nether parts..

He sighs and collapses at her feet.

Strangely absent in the

frame are wildlife.

But for that ankle-clasping crab.

And the usual array of shells

flung soundlessly ashore.

A young girl cries at the shock

of too much sun.

We head back into the water.

You play-drown.

I rescue you every time

though the water is

sour on the tongue.

Then a huge wave

comes out of nowhere,

swings a big hammer,

shatters a row of surfers.

Bodies pile atop bodies.

But, no worry, all are salvageable.

It’s all a good time.

We may as well be having it.

On a Rescue Mission to Save Myself

I’ve returned to the shore

just as the sun’s breaking through

almost perpendicular.

Sight is

like a stream

from here to there,

whether rock to inlet

or sand to gull.

Some things are beyond me,

but not primrose,

or reed pools,

shutting out bad memories

to concentrate on this –

except concentrate

is the wrong word –

I’ll stay with primrose.

No events here,

the only lines

the ones left by bare feet,

the rest can keep

for later

and eat their old and their young

as they always do.

For now,

every living thing

is indifferent to me –

just the way I like it –

a crab may nip

but it doesn’t stab.

It’s all bayberry clumps,

a sanderling congregation

in constant change,

much fishing flight

curved on wind,

but always need at the center.

Waves slap against my toes

in disorderly fashion,

changing shapes

work in and out of my feet,

all in aid of formlessness

and the swallow of deep salty breath.

The images are all around

but they don’t force

themselves on me.

No escape route is needed,

not even from the

greater ocean forces.

This is one walk

among many to come.

There is no finality at work.

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