Poetry: Selections from John Grey

Marriage Year Ten

It has not gone the way originally intended.
Less a pleasure palace, more a hard and granular
fun-obstructing series of tasks.
They've taken options of which they were
previously not even conscious,
just to get things accomplished in a particular way.
So it ends up as something completely different
from the original plans and expectations.
Not quite a travesty. More an effigy.
Not that they plan to torch it any time soon.

On Any Given Day in the Forest

A bright orange chantarelle
pokes through dead leaves.
A spider stretches a web
taut between trees.
Chickadees natter on low boughs
as a crow caws high in the canopy.
The horse chestnut is in bloom
and a yellow birch is teething.
All of these lives are needed.
All other lives concur.


He perused the book
with the aid of reading glasses
and a spit-wet thumb.
Something made him smile.
Something made him frown a little.
Considering he was looking at an illustration
of a subdivided sphere
transformed into a polyhedron,
such a reaction
required a total subjugation
of any human emotion
to the humor or otherwise
in unusual properties of space.
Then he stared, long and hard,
at the perplexities,
the twists and turns
of a Mobius strip.
As far as I know,
there is no real world equivalent.

The Woman in the Book

I came home
to find you in the parlor,
reading a book by the table-lamp,
your face given up to the story,
and not that pain so large and sullen,
it terrifies me.
You looked up
and a little of you returned,
although you were still half
in the novel’s characters,
the machinations of the plot.
Another time,
you might have fallen into my arms.
Or poured wine into two glasses.
But what were real people
halfway through their journey,
compared to those fresh, just starting out,
and with the advantage
of being in print.
The book was your respite.
Within its pages, you could wait out time.
So much going on
and yet nothing was expected of you.
If the author was God,
you had the advantage
of being a disciple.
I thought I was coming home to cancer
but, instead, you greeted me
from the safety of two lives
making a go of it,
with many chapters to come.
You felt guilty enough to close up
your book, respond to my presence
with all that was left of you.
I apologize.
No one should ever have
to give up a story line
for my sake.

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. With work upcoming in Ellipsis, Blueline and International Poetry Review.