John Grey, Summer 2017

On My Side

The Hoboken marsh –
no question.
The local drugstore –
without a doubt.
I can’t go into battle without them.

And then there’s tooth paste.
Salt Lake City and the gun
that’s pointed at somebody else.
Those are my boys.

No, they’re a regular posse –
Hat Rock and Chevron and
the newspaper obituary column.
Not forgetting the Grand Concourse,
artificial intelligence, dusk over Chicago
and CIA moles.

If it was just myself,
I’d be lost
An ant and a dragonfly
would beat me back.
But not when I’ve got
a smog factory to back me up.
And real estate speculators.
And dysentery.
And the homeless millions.

I live in the world.
I’m not here on a brief visit.
I breathe the air.
I stand on the ground.
I’m on equal footing
with other guys
who can say the same.

We all have each other’s back.
Each other’s weather forecast.
Each other’s facial tics.

 

 

Perfume

The place I sniff –
her moments as a perfume
lingering in a room,
enticing, encouraging
while all else is withheld.
protected,
but not this combination
of bergamot, oakmoss
and labdanum –
my hands, my heart,
are at the ready
but it’s my nostrils
that make the initial breakthrough.

 

 

The Fall

 

One day,
lugging her groceries home from the store,
she trips on the uneven pavement,
spilling bags in all directions.

Cat food cans, milk cartons,
eggs, frozen vegetables and spam,
fly in all directions.
A bag of apples breaks
and fruit roll into the gutter.
Her legs split sideways
and her dress rides halfway up her chest.

The curious are now aware of
the run in her stocking,
the color of her underwear.
her clumsiness.
the little she can afford to feed herself,
how quick she is to sob
and to curse the world.

The indifferent know
as much as they did before.

 

 

 

 

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Schuylkill Valley Journal, Cape Rock and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Poem and Spoon River Poetry Review.

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