Monday, March 1, 2021





The Boy In The Barn


Sun burns through even the dirty glass,

even the dust-heap where the bull was sacrificed,

where, in the far corners of the barn,

it was carved up for good feasting.

Rabbits skip by the cunning smile

of the half-opened door and maple trees

bud in the skewered shadow of rotting walls.

Life goes on, hastily put together

by some greater, if unsympathetic power.

Luckily, the creak of wood rolls the film

just for me, each frame paused and filled

with light, like drops of blood.

Thankfully, in my solitary, the past

deviates just enough to get it right,

to be convincing.

Once more, the old man storms out into his fields

to bring all animals to life.

Once more, I hold a humming candle to their death

Here, I bear witness to the crawling mattress,

the tattered seat of velvet insects,

the storm that freezes to crystals in my skull

and scatters the bloated angels

back to their gaudy heaven.

Here, I defy anything to survive

that opera of bovine screams,

those smoke-stacks of flesh

as they burst their sorry chains.

Here I defy prayer and power,

the empires of the light.

Here I sway among the remains

of the next moment in your life,

like the smell of supper,

drifting through the doors of your death.

Here, I will always be what I am

until you find me and then more so.

Horror and solitude, indivisible as dusk.



Red Line


Curious, these people drawn out

of some commuter hat

to fill all the available spaces.

Odd, the faces and the bodies

chosen by circumstance

to share the red line

from Downtown Crossing

to Harvard Square with me.

I'm by myself and yet, on either side,

some students, nose rings

wriggling to the jiggle of the rail,

knocking against my knees,

an older man with beard,

maybe a professor and

a couple of tourists

with heavily marked up maps.

Across from me is

an intellectual type,

head buried in Spinoza

and a couple of black kids

singing under their breath

and a Spanish woman,

and a man with a thick Russian accent

talking to himself.

The ones in my life

are chosen deliberately

compared to this.

The lovers and the friends,

I open my door for very carefully,

after much thought and feeling say,

"Yes you can ride this train."

But every stop, some leave,

some more get on so randomly.

Company is never this busy,

never this loud.

My solitude surprises me sometimes

with the sheer number

and variety of people

who ride it.



Morning In The City


Light's out before people,

at a gentle pace, talking to itself,

maybe reminiscing a little

how it shone yesterday,


stopping here and there

to leap a puddle from last night's rain

but suddenly mesmerized by its reflection

in the shimmering pool


and then another in a shop window,

its brilliance confirmed,

the day growing real.

It walks by gardens,


nudges them awake,

strolls by buildings,

makes them huge.

Hungry, it gnaws on silence


until the street sweeper comes in view.

It savors the pockets of quiet

but doesn't mind so much

when taxi, dog or early worker


interrupts in disjointed, scattered carillon.

Then light, tired of solitude,

motions warmth

to follow its deep footprints.




JOHN GREY is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Orbis, Dalhousie Review and Connecticut River Review. Latest book, “Leaves On Pages” is available through Amazon.


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