Friday, July 1, 2022



The Ghost Of The Written Word


I'm as haunted

as if I lived in a ramshackle Victorian

high on a wooded hill.


When I curl up with a novel,

the pages track your presence,

words are home to your revenants.


And you're my constant bookstore companion

while I thumb through novels at random.

Yes, we still share the sheer love of skin on paper.


The tragic ending always hooked you:

a sip of arsenic,

a slow sinking below the surface of a lily pond,

a dramatic plunge into the path of a locomotive.

And you're in good literary company:

Emma Bovary, Ophelia, Anna Karenina,

the heart-rending list goes on.


I believe you're still around because

you truly despised the way you left us.

You always dreamed of dying in a book.


On Course To Albany


I remember the water parsnips,

the golden alexanders of that day,

growing out of the ditches

that ran parallel to the track,

in and out of Stockbridge,

after the suburbs and the farms,

before the railway curved

and straightened and curved again

through the Berkshires.


Dawn had long broken

and late morning hours were making room,

for all that light and greenery.


There’d been alarm clocks and taxis,

tickets and schedules.

And a paralyzed woman,

who never went anywhere,

waving me goodbye.

But I made it,

restored her faith in people

getting places.


Poem For Everyone Who's Ever Lived In This Place


Furniture's new

and in a different place

But the old furniture's

where if s always been.

Pictures go up, come down,

but the walls are adorned

with whatever's been hung there.


Late November,

cold afternoon sun

patchworks the room,

blue threads of light and dust

subdue the shadows

into shapes from years ago,

the gloom into familiar texture.


Outside is vast and empty,

but these rooms feel like a gathering.

Past lives glisten

like oil on a pond.

I don't make a home.

I continue one.


The Saints


I awaken to

the saints who share my bed.


You can see it in my eyes.

I sleep with goodness every night.


I have my faults but the saints don’t reprimand.

They’re gentle, encouraging, in their responses.


After all, some have been stoned to death.

Others flailed or crucified.

They know that torture is no corrective tool.


So they suggest instead of bully.

Whisper, never shout.

Nudge, not push.


What they cannot do

is hold me first thing in the morning,

follow a loving hug with a passionate kiss.


Someday, I hope to replace the saints with someone.


Dead Biker


found on route 6,

where skid marks

slam into a pole,

head severed,

body mangled inside

a bloody leather jacket,

three feet from

a motorcycle

with paint scraped

but otherwise intact -

a tamer

half eaten by his lions




JOHN GREY is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, “Leaves On Pages” “Memory Outside The Head” and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Ellipsis, Blueline and International Poetry Review.


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