September 13, 2017

Three Poems by John Grey: "Silhouettes", "Down From the North", "The Coming of Andy"

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Tau, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Naugatuck River Review, Abyss and Apex and Midwest Quarterly.


A different language for each of the snake’s tongues –
as for the mouth, a song is both warning and mating cry -
a white house is flush around the edge with weeds and graffiti -
according to the road, each car is or isn't Japanese –
sight and sound are separate, two kinds of madness –
the man cast in concrete is pigeon-stained, distinct, inviolable -
the body's an instrument that wishes it were more musical -  
the whole sure is convincing but I’m going with the details -
your name spoken aloud is enough to fondle me -
the sadness piles up like snow, good for footprints if nothing else -
echo is just my voice returning from some place it wasn’t wanted –
what I know from traveling is that it’s better to be carried –
you’re doomed never to like me…I make up the parts I don't know.


It seems odd to her,
not having to put on that thick coat in January.
She can look at a map,
and understand the logic of it all,
but when it comes to leaving the house,
there's a reflex action
honed on many a Minnesota winter
that looks around for the closest warm thing she can find.

She came here to get away from the cold,
so she says,
but her body still needs reminding now and then
that she can step outside
wearing nothing more than a sweat shirt.
Sure, the breeze is cold.
But like a beer is cold.
Refreshing, high-inducing even.
There's none of the bitterness.
None of the feeling
of being up against an enemy
who must be thwarted at all costs.

She misses the snow,
she says on a regular basis,
the way it smothers the pines
into a glistening white fairyland.
Everything here is a result of temperature.
It has nothing to do with
stories read to her as a child.

But she will stick it out.
She'll adapt.
A couple of mild winters
and she'll forget numb cheeks, crackling fireplaces.
And if Santa Claus wants to parade in red shorts,
she won't complain.
The past may have a will of its own
but eventually, the present learns how to overcome it.
She'll become a southern girl with a northern background.
She'll be herself minus the habits of a lifetime.


She sits at the window
awaiting his arrival.

Is that him?
No, it's the mail-man.

And nor is he
that pitter-patter
on the rooftop.
It's just rain.

Something's shaking the trees.
Not his hands though.
Must be wind.

And the floor is creaking.
But it's an old house.
Not his footsteps.

She sits at the window
watching, listening, experiencing,
all these things that are not him.

She reluctantly
accepts their apology.

© John Grey

Total Pageviews