Poetry: Selections from John Grey



Her Writers Block

She awakens to
streaming pink light
through window
onto flannel sheets.
The day's a newborn
but she is eager to begin.
A pot of Chinese tea
and her favorite stained cup,
dictionary and thesaurus,
bookend a blank sheet of paper.
A classical music station plays
in the background.
She picks up a pen,
strikes a writer’s pose
until night falls.



The One at the Wheel

I'm at my worst
when driving.
Assholes cut me off.
I mutter.
Bastards squeeze me
at a merge.
I curse.
Zombies drive too slow,
nitwits too fast.
My language rises
to my anger's cause
and then some.
Hands on the wheel
and I hate all of humankind.
The roadway is my anti-Semitism,
my racism, my ageism,
all the isms bar the one
where I'm the only one
who can drive.
Then I'm distracted
with the radio tuner,
run a red light.
I choose
hypocritical silence
over self-abuse.



Dog Days

Blue the bloodhound
was my constant companion.
Not Jane.
She just dropped in
with her own canine sidekick,
a Norwich terrier assault weapon
named Maxine.
 
Seated with Jane and I
on the porch,
Blue was as sedate
as a cud-chewing cow
but Maxine was perpetual
aggravating motion.
My ankles were not safe.
My hands came across
as terrier finger food.
But most vulnerable of all
were Blue’s dangling ears.
Maxine nipped at them
with a fury
that not even Blue’s
innate bonhomie could withstand.
 
He emitted a growl
so low, so earth-quake like,
the porch rumbled,
our chairs shook,
and even little Maxine
was stopped in her  
infuriating tracks.
 
Jane spoke to each dog in turn,
in high-pitched baby talk,
then grabbed brown fluffy Maxine
by the midriff,
took her inside the house,
left her in my kitchen
with water and bowl
and at least a thousand
different wails and arfs of protest.
 
I ignored the sound from within,
as Blue and I
bathed in the gathering gold
of sunset,
while Jane’s attention
was half with me,
half with her infuriated pet.
 
There were times
when I was as much Blue
as Blue was.
Staring at the beauty around us,
we were both quite capable
of a long and serene howl.
 
And Jane and Maxine
were also a perfect match.
Their considerations wavered.
Viciously or just imprudently,
they snapped at whatever
was within mouth-range.
 
I was content within myself.
For my benefit,
she shed her worst inclinations
but couldn’t stand the separation.
So our relationship went nowhere.
Not even to see the vet.



The Dictator Ponders

I wondered how the smarter people
would react to the new conformity,
the refashioning of all
into one great orthodoxy.
Over time, they stopped reasoning.
Questioning, of course,  
was out of the question.
Much of the time,
they walked about like zombies,
just like the others.
They joined in the activities.
They wore the uniforms.
They carried around the membership cards.
I began to worry that their tendency
to fall in like sheep
would rub off on me.
It took such an effort to hold back.
Their constant saluting helped.





John Grey is an Australian poet, now a US resident, who has recently been published in Sheepshead Review, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. His latest books include: Leaves On Pages, Memory Outside the Head, and Guest of Myself. 

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