Sunday, April 1, 2018




They still don’t know
why you died.
So there you are
in your frozen locker
in the morgue
awaiting autopsy.

Was it something spiritual,
I wonder.
Or more biological?
What about unethical?
How about the lows of high-tech?

I only know the answer is not
prosperous, flexible or lively.
It could be complex.
I’ll accept paradoxical.


It’s not easy being outdoors
in this January twilight,
as I leave deep imprints
that crush the shreds of wildflower
smothered by the snow.

The sunlight’s too far off
to reach me,
prefers to look like God
but not act like Him in any way.
I would like to believe in the almighty
because that would mean angels
with wings the color of the world around me
but with a more encouraging message
than the bitter flesh-eating wind.

But He’s too much of an abstraction
and so’s that wind,
one I can feel
through every part of my body.
In God’s mind,
winter’s just a necessary staging ground
for what’s to come.
The frozen pond doesn’t upset him.
Nor do the moribund trees.
He makes allowances.
I cannot.

I realize I need to be more open
to all kinds of weather,
to appreciate how the worst
is where the best gets it from.
Like maybe my faults
are the first stage in me being a better person.
Maybe that’s where the angels come in.
They see my footprints.
They confuse them for steps.


Her car was in the garage
so she borrowed her son’s
to go to the doctor.
The stereo exploded
the moment she turned the key –
AC/DC, Sabbath, Iron Maiden –
loud riffs, shrieking voices,
slammed her back against the seat.

Her right hand stopped short of turning it off.
She figured,
why not be young for the twenty minutes
it takes to get there.
Maybe her arthritis would be shocked into a cure.

So she backed onto the road
with a loud screech,
plunged her foot on the accelerator,
picked up more speed than breath
as she slalomed in and out of side streets
and onto the highway.

Her body moved to the noise.
Her pulse kept the beat.
With the rock and roll wailing,
the brake was the last thing on her mind.

The screech of rubber on tar
the rattle and hum of an overcooked engine –
ah to be young,
to feel the rawness of a body, a mind,
not yet fully formed,
nowhere to be and in a great rush to get there,
wind whipping her hair,
flipping her face like a card deck,
tearing at the buttons of her blouse.

Then she pulled into the doctor’s parking lot.
She was her true age again
and with complaints enough to show for it.
Doctor Stone would give her a new prescription.
But nothing like the one she’d just taken.


JOHN GREY is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Tau, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Examined Life Journal and Midwest Quarterly. 

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