December 3, 2016

Three Poems by John Grey: "A Traveler on a Stormy Night," "Goodnight," and "This Grip on Me"

John Grey is an Australian poet who lives in the U.S. He has been published in New Plains Review, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review, with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Cape Rock and Spoon River Poetry Review.

A Traveler on a Stormy Night

A traveler seeks shelter
on a stormy night.
The only light for miles
shines from the upper window
of a creaky, dilapidated house
set deep in the woods.
He raps loudly on the front door.
The insides echo back at him,
loud and hollow.
Finally an ancient manservant
invites him in,
cackles something like,
"the master is expecting you."
He's ushered into a
moldy, musty drawing room,
avails himself of a rickety chair.
A stranger suddenly appears
in a place where he could swear
there was no one a moment before.
This newcomer welcomes him
by name.
I must confess that 1 am
that traveler.
And the house belongs
to my Uncle George.
If you think this diminishes
the threat in any way,
then you don't know my family.


Every crack of twig
suggests the approach
of something evil -

each dark stump
transforms into
a crouching beast -

an owl hoots,
a bat swoops
and the face
in the tree trunk warns
''darkness is upon you'" -

who needs a forest
at night

when your head's
so deep, immense,
and dense with baleful forces.

This Grip on Me

Why stand outside the door
of a house like this
if it's not reportedly haunted?

Without ghosts,
it's just another abandoned
fire-trap on the south-side,
occupied by rats
and occasional transients.

It's the face of the hag
in the upstairs window,
the fleeting glimpse
of spectral figures
floating through the parlor,
that brings me back here
time and time again.

A sign above the knocker says,
"This house has been condemned."
I prefer the word "cursed"
but it amounts to the same thing.

© John Grey

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