John Grey


It’s where water and reeds
go dark together,
a frog sends word
via deep-throated bloop.

Where a solitary hill,
just by being in the way,
extinguishes the sun.

Where cricket chirr
is the last sound
the wildflowers hear for the night

Where fading light,
gives way to slate sky,
and white sparkle
on the backs of the deer.

Stay put
if these apply.  


Was I the only boy
who, on rainy days,
made a paper boat
out of yesterday’s newspaper,
launched my vessel
in the gutter
at the top of the hill,
then ran alongside its maiden voyage,
as it rode high on slimy water
a hundred yards or more
before that final swerve,
into the drain hole,
and the plummet out of sight?

I’ve been in plenty of company
but I’ve not heard it mentioned.

Please, go fold your own schooner,
cast off and ride shotgun,
or childhood dies with me. 


The mountains are not going anywhere
and yet why do I watch them, not just in awe,
but for conformation.

And why are you beside me,
on this chair cut from oak,
wedged safely in rock at this overlook,

with the Catskills stretching before us,
so many peaks, so many names,
the landscape entrusted to their granite,

their greenery, streams etched into the dips,
waterfalls dispensing winter snows,
and the occasional shadow-rippled lake

to draw in the wildlife with a siren’s
silent song that echoes from a glacial age.
We too are staying put, our belief

in each other just as grounded and an occasional
glimpse presenting itself to a glance returned,
a skim that barely realizes the depths it encounters:

love, that fish that thinks it’s a dragonfly.
Sun’s setting now, stripping some of the scenery
away from us, so it’s time to leave before

the chill, the blankness, stake their claim
for sense and scenery. It’s a slow walk back to the hotel.
Direction would be darkness if we weren’t the lamplights. 


When sorrow needs words,
I am at your disposal.

I do pain, heartbreak,
diseases of the body,
mind and soul,
and the only charge
is that you read what
I write when I’m done.

I also do
love and happiness,
but rarely.

For that’s when
poetry about something
can’t compete
with that something.

People seldom come
to me for joy. 


Sun fades
on granite ridge.
Shadow celebrates
the last rites
of rock and pool.

Trees fuse together,
become shape.
Half-blinded hills
close the other eye.

I look out from the veranda,
take kindly to the grayness,
the tamped horizon fires.

Birds roost, bats emerge,
my mind retreats
from spectacle to musings.

The moon’s let loose.
Sky breaks out in stars.
I’m under no pressure
to go in.

In so few places,
can I be
one of a kind. 


He poured out his heart
and many listened in.
Despite the alcohol,
the man’s emotions were genuine.
And they found doleful
but vigorous expression.
He talked of a departed loved one,
though whether dead or just moved on,
he never did make clear.
And it could have happened yesterday
or a quarter of a century ago.
Whatever the combination,
it had all been too much for him.
He told, in great detail,
the elements of a thousand dreams,
except they were all the same dream –
that he and she,
whoever she was,
be reunited again.
He must have found some relief
in the telling
because he went on and on about it
and, as long as the passion was there,
he had an audience.
He got it all out.
He got it all out a second time.
But then he started to fatigue.
He began to waver,
looked likely to totter
and fall any moment.
He went out looking for a little sanity.
He found a couple of guys
willing to help him into a cab.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, and Hollins Critic. Latest books, “Leaves On Pages” and “Memory Outside The Head” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Lana Turner and International Poetry Review. John’s work was first featured on The Short of It on July 17, 2020, and again on December 31, 2020. He had several pieces selected and published in The Sound of Brilliance.


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