Poetry: Selections from John Grey

Angry One

Your features change
at the hurling of the insults.
Flame singes the edges of your nostrils.
Your eyes are no longer green but red.
Your cheeks are purple.
That menacing mouth reeks of sulfur.
And your ears swish like scythes.
You’re victim of an anger
that not even physicality can contain.
It has dragged your looks down
to the body language basement.
Yet you look like you’ve been running up stairs.

Sunset Stalks the Battlefield

Sun cast coronae
on the settled dust
above the ridge.

It took the shape of bodies,
of gutted tanks and burnt shell casings.

The fading light preferred
the glint of grass to corpses,
the glow of rock to steel.

Crows, flies -
of no interest to the
dregs of brightness.

Shadows joined in the feast
but the gleam wasn't hungry.

Finally, day succumbed
to the horizon.

For a moment,
the sun glowed blood-red
on the blue shirt of the sky.

A Dunk

The court is black and throbbing,
each player pushing to create his space,
and one hand stretches out and up,
feeds the rim with sweat,
the ball, his long brown fingers.

Spectators grip the playground wire,
a few Stygian souls,
solitary, too young and too old.

On one side,
hip-hop rocking age-old three floor tenement,
and from a lonely window.,
50's jazz, smooth and forgetful.

On the other, burnt home shells
braced with hymns and prayers
in the shadow of a dying fire
or a cigarette smoldering
in a basement bar -
whatever the ash,
it's blowing, it's falling.

Time lets them have their day,
shirts versus skins,
a twilight ripped from cycles,
the decline, the failure,
the toxicity, the cold.
And everywhere around,
the score is whatever
the toughest guys say it is.

No Better

He sprang out of bed,
bounced down the stairs,
He ate cereal,
a bowl of fruit,
and drank a glass of milk.
He took the dog for a walk
and himself for a run.
Then he went to work,
spent a productive eight hours
absorbed in the job he adored.
After that, he cooked a meal
for his beloved,
with lean meat, healthy vegetables,
smothered by a tangy
(but not too tangy) sauce.
Once again, the two foreswore sex
until their wedding night
the coming June.
They kissed at the door.
And then he slipped into bed.
As he dozed off,
he said to himself,
“It gets no better than this.”
Looking back, years later,
he wished that he hadn’t been right.

John Grey is an Australian poet, and US resident, who has recently been published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Poetry Salzburg Review and Red Weather. His latest books, CovertMemory Outside The Head, and Guest Of Myself are all available through Amazon.