Thursday, November 1, 2018




To understand love
one must embrace
the allure of its paradox.

Yes, when looked at abstractly,
it can only become increasingly complex,
So best observe its results
e.g. the same person by your side
day after day.
This simplifies matters.
At least, until it doesn’t.

For example,
what of a lover’s almost entire
abandonment of romance
for the cutting of grass,
the washing of soiled underwear?

Love is too damn obtuse.
Think of it as a series of centrifugal gestures.
Or a liquid poured on the surfaces
of glances, of conversation,
so that no detail of it emerges.

Love is really an evolving continuity,
whorls of feeling that
form an interlacing skein
that can endure the imposition
of an indefinite number of outside influences
but becomes less and less
like anyone’s idea of love.

The best I can come up with
is that it’s a series of labyrinthine circumstances
mixed with both refined and coarse situations,
the result being a kind of mental and physical bond.

To be honest,
the entire arcane dimension of love
is where it loses me.
Better it be understood inherently.
It’s not at its best in the telling.


Sunlight set up camp at the tip of my nose.
I opened my eyes slowly.
A curtain moved gently.
A window shone blue.
I couldn’t see Saturday night anywhere.

I rolled over
into a surprising emptiness.
It was soft enough.
The mattress saw to that.
But no way it would be
making me breakfast.

My alarm clock, as always,
ruled over the dresser.
I scowled at time.
I was expecting a woman in the bed beside me.
Not six thirty.


The avenue has a current
rubbed smooth from house to house,
that whistles through
what each false front carries inside,
helps lift it above
the sidewalks of the poor.

Here is the car to drive,
the garden to emulate,
a picket fence to secure the psyche
like dead bolts do the doors.

It is America.
Something is empty
but it’s not the belly.
Something is lost
but none of what has been
acquired of late.


JOHN GREY is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Homestead Review, Poetry East and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Harpur Palate, the Hawaii Review and North Dakota Quarterly.

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