Monday, June 1, 2020



You Cannot Escape

That’s why you stumbled and fell;

the echoes of old lovers and
the Geiger counters,
the metals outside.

The fence is as far as you can go.

The only antidote, a gun to the temple.

Ah, the peach blossom opens
like a penthouse suite.
But the pretty picture is mere Chimera.

The side of the road.
The walk is never close enough.
All growth is a past belief.
An ancient geography.
You break off like an iceberg.

Then and always the lab is open.
There isn't anything swifter than a needle drawing blood.
No one is thankful.
These scrapes create a great abyss  and leave.

They are now the cross within that glassy spotlight.
They go down to the
mother's eyes.
to inhabit, beautiful futures
to leap far onto the rooftops or the sky.

Life Story

I come home
from Anna’s digs
with nothing on my mind
not even food or drink
blowing up Thayer Street
like a dirty postcard
midnight blind
and words over everything like mustard
holding out for somebody I knew
like a car drifting by
or a guy playing saxophone for spare change
but no eyes
and little in the way of ears
heading for some rooming-house
off the main bohemian drag
stuck with my own doings
in a close-up city
invaded and appropriated
strolling by brownstones
all senses reaching for the fire escapes
on a street that should be
a ladder to heaven
outraged that it isn’t
by the gravesite of a famous man
more than would be given the most wretched
like I was back in the middle ages
thinking of home
that wretched consolation
if I could ever come up with enough
to pay for the flight
but here’s my asylum
I’m lulled by my key in the door
up the first flight
my Puerto Rican neighbor invites me in to smoke a joint
I’d rather puff on the traffic
the songs
or trade looks with the two gay guys
who hump half the night
or the old man who, rumor has it,
used to be gangster
or the cockroaches
that are always up for anything

Life Story

but, best of all, myself,
the bed, the skylight,
the bareness,
how, with one look around the room,
I can see everything I have in the world

a Bible
who else can say that
who else can give it that old 360 degrees
and not see misery

sure, I’d love to have someone
to share my radio
my comforter
but loneliness is not all wrong
and I am often asked
don’t you feel you’re missing out on something
while living by yourself
sometime I’m the one asking the question

yes I feel a little buried here
but the grave is shallow
and I am writing my life story
so can I trouble you for a life?

Just The Once

We were drunk
and not in love,
a losing combination.
Irish whiskey
not only broke down
the barriers,
it constructed a few
just so it could
knock down those
as well.
I had my hand on
your breast,
down between your legs,
like now I have
a sympathetic arm
around your shoulder,
a string of
sorrowful words
nibbling on
your patient caring ear.
We're friends
who got so drunk,
so horny,
we almost killed
our friendship.
We had to admit
we fucked up.
We both looked down
to say it.


JOHN GREY is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Hawaii Pacific Review, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty with work upcoming in Blueline, Willard and Maple and Steam Ticket.

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