John Grey

THE MIDNIGHT CELEBRATION

I’d rather it wasn’t the clock
that drinks with me.
I revile its stories, its jokes.
What do I care about the billions of years
it can go back
and the billions forward.
And it’s such a smarmy accent,
that “tick, tick, tick.”

But the clock it is,
on the wall, dresser,
cable box, shiny numbers
peering out of stove and microwave.

If I had my way,
my drinking companions would be
the youth turned twenty-one,
proudly showing everyone his license.
The young gun of thirty,
money in his pocket,
vice presidency in the bag.
Even the beer-gutted forty-year-old,
discussing big plans over imported ale.

It’s almost midnight,
the flat froth of another deadly day.
One bottle is finished,
another stakes out my thirst.
This isn’t the party I had planned.
I invited the times of my life
but time of year showed up instead.

WORK OUT

Hamper overflowing.
More clothes piled up at the end of the bed.
I’m in the cellar on the elliptical,
walking a mile or so in one place,

Dishes piled up in the sink,
the house is on its own.
But the man must trim those abs,
shrink that gut,
or everything falls apart.
When was the last time
the carpet saw a vacuum cleaner?
Dust lasts longer around here than calories.
My fitness machine squeaks
like tortured mice.

Windows, mirrors, lack for
a good arm wrestle with a wet cloth.
But I see myself in the bathroom scales.
I look out through how healthy I feel.
The roof is leaking.
I could be up there fixing it.
But if I’m to avoid hard work,
I first must have the strength.

ANATOMY OF A HUG

The wave’s motion.
We are moving.
Through the door in the morning.
These floors, so different from at night.
Sway with light like sown fields.
Gradually goes the soot-discharging fishing boat.
Your body leans on me for comfort.
With a mysterious whisper, I lean on you.

Today, when we clench hands,
tides roll in, those hands open up,
love is crystallized sand and grafted together. 
Almost dull but blood flows freely.

Dreaming is easy.
Crossing over into vision is not.
A daybreak frontier
when it pays to hold our breath.
Knowing is anticipation.
Acting, a risky plunge.
A naked coastline
reinforces our dependence.

When love and sea
share the tumult inside us,
a single surge
nudges our way forward.
This startling landscape.
This water. Our fear.
This earth. Our support.
Here in the harbor, I hold you inside me.
Clean anchor
where all else pulls away.

BOY

September,
a slow drift from light and heat,
apples peaking,
trees giving up the green.
your boy turns 21.

lie’s a man
just as the planet
turns its back
on its own manhood,
no longer robust and clear
but reflective,
warm when the sun’s upon it,
but chilly come dark.

He’s out with his friends.
in a bar, ordering his first legal beer.
He’ll slay out later than the moon.
There’ll be women with
more claim on him than you.

Luckily, there’s always winter.
You’ll see more of him then,
his freedom not quite warm enough
as the usual bitter winds,
blinding drifts,
driving him indoors.

For a time, an old dead planet
can’t compete with your contemporaneous fire.
Poor mother flame –
he’ll be yours again
but seasonal.  

HOW TO MAKE THE BEST OF IT

Let us walk forty years in the desert,
heat-struck, devastated,
forgetting to bring water.
forgetting who we are,
stumbling about
like coked-up porn queen
and impotent actor.

It gets no emptier –
just you and me,
a rattlesnake,
rat, lizard, nothing cute –
a cheap motel of a landscape,
a greasy fast-food meal
pecked apart by vultures.

We’re either bored or arguing.
So let’s reroute our lives.

Civilization just doesn’t go with our obsessions.
Too much to drink. To flush.
To rinse away dirt sins.
We need to be where it’s barren and defeating,
deadly in its indifference.
Occasionally, we’ll come across a bullock skull
from a rancher’s dream inverted.
That bone could be the two of us –
crumbling and healing.

A LESSON IN BIOLOGY

This velvet plant
venerates its stalk, its flowers,
casts off a spore to spread the word –

children skim its seed
from the fishpond –

wind thrashes it this way, that way,
from willow to mimosa –

it’s a mast with lantern
driving through November
to the unfriendly house –

faster, faster, ever more desperate,
stringing together moment and lives and fears –

a drop of dew on green apple
of breath on almonds and cheese –

then the picnic where
the ancient diva
adorns herself
with the succulent triple choker,
girdling her fleshy throne
more beautiful
for the cracks in her skin –

oh the sun – it is a jewel
she can almost wear on her finger –

meanwhile, a dream
frets itself to ruin –
too brittle for these atmospheres,
while the past she hordes like a delicate jade –

this scene suggests a dying light,
and a woman preciously inlaid.

~~~

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Soundings East, Dalhousie Review and Connecticut River Review. Latest book, Leaves On Pages is available through Amazon. This is John’s second feature on The Short of It.

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Reblog – Out of commission by Eugenia Hoffman

I feel like this is one of those pieces which has such depth of meaning that your emotions will force themselves to erupt within you after reading it. Eugenia captured youth, aging, and the inevitable feelings about mortality in this beautiful senryu/haiku. Just lovely!

How We Become

our existence is pure chance
from the first breath to the last

…we begin to emerge

we reside in our hulls
as best we can

…we accept our fate

no destiny is foretold
it would be a lie

…we begin to build our futures

the influences we encounter
shape our course

...we put the pieces together

our existence in this world
a compilation of experiences

…we accept or reject what we encounter

this being of our own making
punctuated by false starts

…we are the entity we discovered

years of facing trials
and joys captured in moments

…we become

a lifetime to savor through memories
a person determined

Thank you, Akshita, for inspiring these thoughts!

Branching Out

clutching the familiar
history entwined
all around me

each dance with rain
an opportunity
sowing strength and hope

the crackling of old
sheds to reveal
new growth

expansion through the seasons
reaching full potential
and glorious heights

time, an enemy of our state
robs us of our vitality
we are eventually humbled



#The Sunday Whirl ~ Wordle 477 by Anita Dawes

The genetics in our family put me at a higher risk for Alzheimer’s, not a high chance but still. It’s something I worry about in my old age. Getting old sucks. 😦

Books & Bonsai

Everyone agreed it was a pity
The loss of a brilliant mind
Most turned away in disgust
At the way, the dribble dried on his chin
He would groan, shrug, and dribble some more.
There’s no way to truly lament
The loss of anything
Much is hidden from us
That others do not wish us to see
Life itself is a raffle
Inevitably, you receive your number
Until you inhale your last
That’s not to say life is grim
There are brilliant flashes of light
Rainbow moments to remember…

©anitadawes 2020

ABOUT US: For those new to our website and blog, we would like to thank you for visiting. Between us, we write in several different genres, so there should be something for everyone to enjoy. Anita cannot abide computers, so I (Jaye) do all the technical (oily rag) stuff! Our books tend to be varied, from…

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Slipping Away

Adrien King @ Unsplash

Inspired by Sadje’s What do you see #51, Eugi’s Weekly Prompt – Foresight &
VJ’s Weekly Challenge – Reason

we watched the grains of sand dwindle
even with foresight and understanding
the reason our bodies have given up
is not a mystery

death is upon us
time has run out
it’s useless reaching up at dusk
to reverse course


#Whatdoyousee

John Grey

GOOD AND EVIL

The carving on my wall
is some African devil mask
that I picked up on my travels.
The hollow eyes stare
all day, all night,
at the crucifix on the mantel.
There is good and evil
in everything…
even a room.

LOOK, UP IN THE SKY

Crows on a tree branch,
DC-10 heading south.

One gets roadkill,
the other, peanuts and a beverage.

They both fly
but the cabin service differs.

IN THE NURSING HOME

Each confined
to their own room,
the sick can no longer
suffer together.

No communal TV.
The tables are silent.
Cards put away.

Here is an exile
inside another exile.
Even thoughts
can’t find their way
through to other people.

THE FIELDS SURROUNDING THE MONASTERY

Day flips open the land this morning.
Some fields lie fallow.
Others are anxious to grow.
Monks move about them,
praying and sowing.
In a world made brilliant
by the beneficence of the sun.
it never once occurs to them
that they are the only shadows.

THAT POET IN THE FOXHOLES

He was a soldier.
Made it to sergeant.
Three stripes.
Wore them proud.
He wrote poetry too.
Mostly in foxholes.
Never composed one
before he went to war.
Nor when he came home.
Only when the bullets
were flying, did he think
a bloodroot worth
saying something about.
They bud,
bloom barely a day,
then die.
They never ask
for any of this.

~~~

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Sin Fronteras, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty with work upcoming in West Trade Review, Willard and Maple and Connecticut River Review.

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Bad News

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I awoke in dimmed light — the spirit of forging on slightly dampened. 
But a new day had begun anew. I owed it to nature to oblige with movement. 

Slow slaps of arthritic pain on the laminated floor bore witness to that effort.
The smell of coffee circulating in my nostrils urged me on. 

Looking out the kitchen window previewed a gloomy day.
Bare brown limbs prominently on display with the sun hidden behind the white backdrop.

I watched as flat and fluffy white flakes mingled with the ice-encased scenery.
The hard-crystalized nature would eventually shatter, litter on the ground indiscriminately. 

Steam from my coffee curled up into view like a typical fog.
This scene of dreariness further clouding my demeanor. 

The TV spouted the daily “Breaking News,” breaking me down even more.
“Does anything good happen anymore?” I wondered. 

The responsibility of my existence sits on my desk chipping away at my bank account and self-esteem.
Once again, screaming, “I can’t give what I don’t have.” 

My ringing cell phone urged a distraction from this misery.
Tears began to flow as another nail hammered in, another in my generation gone. 

With trembling hands, I ended the call and stared out the kitchen window.
And with a heaving chest, a wet face, and blurry vision, I broke. 

I should have predicted the inevitability of heading back under the covers.
The older I get, the heavier the weight of what life has to offer, the more defeated I am.

Reblog – Haiku – ‘Looking at Himself’ – A poem by Goff James

Goff does a wonderful job of giving us a visual about aging but in addition, I could see the weariness of sorrow from a hard life in this piece. I can even see the face of a man who’s made really bad decisions in his life and now having to live with those truths. Well done!

Art, Photography and Poetry

Image and Poem Attribution © goffjamesart/photography/poetry

Click here to read more haiku poems by Goff James

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