John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Big Muddy and Sanskrit with work upcoming in South Carolina Review, Gargoyle, Owen Wister Review and Louisiana Literature.
MORNING WITH THE OBITS
The eastern hills gather in shadow,
disperse in sun.
A blue-jay squawks joyously
as if it is the bird's bright color speaking.
Every blade of grass
is bejeweled by dew.
My father morosely turns the newspapers
straight to the obituaries.
That could be the guy he went to school with
or the girl who worked at the Five and Ten
so many years ago.
Dawn gilds the lake,
the surrounding cottages.
Trees drip light from canopy to roots.
Everything's taking back its shape
as if there had been no night.
And there he is
picking at the names of the dead
like they're scabs
and beneath, red and raw,
is some connection to his own life.
The deer, the rabbits,
nibble on grass
at forest's edge.
A mallard leads
a dawn parade of ducklings
across the lake.
But then he cheers up
because he's found himself a wake to go to.
Until then, he'll have to put up with the living.
The dying are in there and I am outside.
They're shrinking to the thinness of their bed-sheet
while I draw strength, from the azaleas,
the grass, the raffish pine needles.
Inside, the head is a pillow,
the memory nothing more than a thick dark curtain
drawn across the unseen window.
But on the lawn, down the street, through the forest,
each deep breath promises a million more to come.
I see the house from a vantage point atop a green hill
and, the higher I climb, the more it contracts.
No longer home, it's a coffin.
Not fit for a living family of five
but cramped and narrow enough for just one supine body.
Don't worry, I will come to see him.
But not until the sun goes down
and the world itself is boarded up by darkness.
Then the light in his room will be the only light.
And the dying will have their wish,
the living, their pretext
LIES AT 9.00, FILM AT 11.00
The TV has been showing lies lately
or, at best, sweeping statements,
Every night, my intelligence is maligned
by some truth slanderer
in a neat blue suit, tie, hair-piece
and a grin that makes me believe
there's such a thing as a teeth-piece.
Stories are read, discussed
by experts in fabrication.
And there's even fake films to back up
Sure a picture's still worth a thousand words
but if the video's doctored
then the worth of words is worthless.
All these concoctions make me
wonder why I watch sometimes,
why I pull up my chair, sip my coffee,
stare at propaganda from the Middle East,
tall tales from Wall Street,
blatant fibs out of the mouths
of everyone from rock stars to sports heroes.
If I want the truth,
then who's to trust but myself.
But the TV never knows I'm on.