August 1, 2016

Three Poems by John Grey: "Spring," "Those Were the Days," and "Trying to Appear Tougher than I Am"

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, South Carolina Review, Gargoyle and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Cape Rock and Spoon River Poetry Review.

Photograph Courtesy of D. H. Allen


cheap wine
under the highway overpass,
taking turns
wiping each other's spit
off the neck
before guzzling down
another mouthful
of that rotgut,
heads spinning,
stomachs burning,
chins unshaved
and hands cut from broken glass
those were the days -
the nights,
you don't want to know


What you think you're doing?
Peeking through a plank with a five inch-knothole.
Fake ID from three different states.
Sneaking into the old movie house without paying.
Staring at the Old Master and declaring,
I can paint better than this shit.
A preference for the words “'bush league"
to describe just about everything.
Add in a shambling gait that's almost a shuffle.
A constant look of self-amusement.
And the title - the Baron of Brag.

At seventeen, someone has the nerve to ask,
"What do you think you're doing?"
There's construction going on in there.
I really could do with a drink.
I've already spent my allowance.
The nudes I get but why must they be painted so chubby?
"Bush league" - it's a saying of my old man.
Yeah, exactly,
to describe just about anything.
The walk is something I saw in a video.
And, let's face it, even if the joke's on me,
I can't give anyone the satisfaction.
You're right. What do I have to brag about?
By the way, the word is "barren" not "Baron."


the optimum time
for romantic/employment

bird sightings

and pap smears;

if this is going to work,
I advise you to

bury yourself in fresh loam
where possible

and be sensitive to
random communications
from total strangers;

like most of us
who are ruled
by emotion and hunger

be aware of the voices
within yourself -

both conscious and
“what’s in it for me?”

factor them into
your various presentations;

don’t dump the people
who love you already

or the current job
that pays little
but pays at least;

and don’t act suspiciously
when around forms
and jewelry store windows –

and adhere to deadlines -
they have your best interests at heart.

~John Grey

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