May 11, 2018

Three Poems by John Grey: "Whole Woman and the Face of a Man," "Car Lover," and "At the Singles Bar"

John Grey is an Australian poet who lives in Rhode Island. He has recently been published in Examined Life Journal, Studio One, and the Columbia Review and has work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East, and Midwest Quarterly.

                                                                               D.H. Allen

Whole Woman and the Face of a Man

She loved a quadriplegic.
As much as she didn't want to,
she loved his chair as well,
the newest model,
with more accessories than a BMW,
and more help to him than
she ever could be.

She couldn't even get him out
of that contraption by herself.
It always needed another helper
to lift him in and out of the car,
into bed, or up steps.
Their relationship was a kind
of ménage-a-trois.
The odd one out
changed from moment to moment.

He didn't complain as much as he'd a right to.
Nor did she
even when it was time to empty his catheter bag.
He still had his face and the thoughts behind it.
She'd gently fondle his lips, his cheeks,
as if they were the last bodies of water
on a slowly drying planet.

She had to put aside her need for being held,
for sex, for everything that other couples
failed to hide in plain sight.
She'd tell herself that, like a blind woman
whose superior hearing compensates,
the impossibility of one kind of love
intensified all others.
Some said she was a saint.
But she was just a lover
in a way that no one else was.

Car Lover 

How do they do it,
the ones who prefer their cars to their women?

They zoom down 95,
slick as missiles,
hands gripped exclusively to wheel,
face a half-breath breath behind the windshield,
miles ripped under them
like creatures frantic to get out of the way.

How do they come to the machine
with parts whose purpose
they can rattle off like the alphabet
in preference to the mothers of their children,
whose inner workings
bristle with mystery?

It's the religion
of Saint Camshaft, Saint Piston Skirt,
the gospels of manifold, flywheel,
piston and distributor cap.
The God is in the design.
And tachometer, speedometer -
such angels.

When foot hits accelerator,
they're with the leather upholstery,
the horse power beneath them,
how well the beast is running.

How do they do it,
set aside flesh and bone
for what gives them greater pleasure?
And how do they do it,
these women,
make a home for their men
somewhere in the rear-view window?

At the Singles Bar

One is as blonde
as Janet Jackson
under all that bleach.
And she looks hard
like she was a sidewalk in a previous life.

And the next is small and cute
but with a constant twitter like a sparrow.
Her friend is tall,
an opportunity to use the word 'statuesque’
but she has more muscle that I do
and her glare is straight out
of the Arctic Ocean.

Beside her is a woman
who looks willing enough,
thanks to a skin pouch full of alcohol.

I move along to perky,
sunshine made flesh,
but she is boasting to some guys
how she knows judo.
And I like my neck
better than my chances.

I soon discover that single
means not only available
but alone.

I nurse a drink at a table
for an hour or two
before heading for home.

In the mirror, I see a guy
who has brown hair,
is on the thin side,
likes T.S. Eliot
and once read "Ulysses"
over a two week period.
Keep in mind,
this might be the best you can do.

~John Grey

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