Thursday, August 2, 2012

John Grey


In the particles of dust, some of the face
gathers filthy pink and grubby-blue-eyed.
The day is willful. Human flesh is on trial.
A tempest hums inside this fog of dirt. Shards
of petal, waxy and green, surrender to the
imposition of some distant desert. In dead of
lake, water cries out to be saved. Wind whips
up the haze. Skin croaks froglike. The
earth crouches back inside its hovel of oxygen,
refuses to remember the better days. A solitary house
disappears in a powdery flood. !f only it would rain
but moisture has been warned off. The sun is cruel,
joins the rampage, rides roughshod over shutter
blinking air. What happened to paradise? Eden fights
for breath, its lungs clogged. Sorry, it says. I never
meant for this to happen. The map just laughs. You never know
what's coming when you live next door to the devil.

Inside, you frantically shut blinds, tape windows,
as if the weather's coming for you. A bad dream
finds itself with feather duster in one hand.
The determined gray splatters the bedroom,
screams underneath the kitchen door. It knows
no human laws. Brows knit with grit. Appetites
cower before the mighty horde. The artificial
perfect lawn is the first to go. Roses die, praised,
at the end, for their shriveled candor. 'The world
convenes as an army of whips. Drunken ash grows wings.


Something huge and luminous fell out of the sky,
The earth surrendered, somewhere in its oceans.
Lower depths ran for their lives.
The sea-bed rose like a sudden heaven-bound tide.
You sat on your veranda, watched the bleak horizon
fire hoses at the stars.
The harsh red of the following day flung itself backward
against the bars of night's dark dungeon,
exploded in a scream of strontium and blood.
The moon dripped like a wax candle.
Orpheus gathered everything he could
from the crumbling underworld,
streaked across the wretched firmament. .
And a great tsunami headed your way.
You were on your third rum.
Your chestnut hair did nothing to discourage
your throat from sighing softly.
It was that night when it happened.
Your lips lay like a lovely child
in the cradle of your mouth.
Your eyes were at the height of their ascendancy.
And your skin announced to all and sundry pearlers:
dive here.
But your dog licked your fingers
like no man could.
And you laughed at the belligerent burst of water.
The sound of your voice did nothing but tree you.
Long after you were swept away,
you poured yourself another rum,


Eternity lacked blue eyes and long blonde hair
despite what the nuns had told me.
Sure, it stretched farther than any time had a right to

but it was missing the touch of a soft hand on my wrist bone,
the attentive breath inches from my ear.
And if feeling couldn't see reason, then what could reason feel?

First Communion threw up its hands at all physical law.
Gravity? What is that? Evolution? Who invited it to the ritual?
It was wafer and wine or nothing. And there I knelt,

all body and blood and, despite the priest's exhortations,
unable to taste the likeness.
And there was eternity, the ultimate reward,

the payback for the childhood bullies, the dud romances,
the lousy jobs, the pain in the gut.
But what of those who lived among equals,

who loved the here and now, who wrote for a living,
whose health ticked blindly on.
Heaven, for all its scrubbed walls and floors,

its blissed out angels, was more nursing home than shining apogee.
I still had a life to lead, a good one. It would be nothing compared to all of time.
But something sure could learn from nothing.

© John Grey 2012

John Grey is an Australian-born poet, who works as a financial systems analyst. Recently published in Poem, Spindrift, Prism International and the horror anthology, "What Fears Become" with work upcoming in Potomac Review, Hurricane Review and Pinyon.

1 comment:

  1. Heaven was more nursing home than shining apogee, and I almost feel as if John Grey has witnessed the letdown and returned to advise us, just so those of us expecting a top notch afterlife won't be disappointed.
    He's convinced me he's made a qualified assessment.


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