January 6, 2015

– John Grey

Now the rain is endless
and the shooting outside won’t stop.
Or is that the thunder?
Was there an assassination involved?
Did an anarchist blow away an arch-duke?
Or is it nothing more than a river overflowing
and the lowlanders leaving their homes
and possessions behind
to huddle here with the rest of the unfortunate? 

I often dream of people in a gym,
row after row of beds on the parquet floor,
the stands pushed back to allow for more,
some sleepless ones looking directly up
at the baskets,
a few small kids blanketed,
laid out on rows of seats. 

Maybe the army will come for them here anyhow.
Or the floodwaters will creep up so high
that no place is safe.
Or lightning will strike,
raze building and inmates.
Or they’ll all go mad,
turn on themselves. 

Whatever it is,
they’re bedded down together
like I’m bedded down
with my inoperable imagination.
We’re all refugees,
they from what threatens.
I, from a world making sense.
We’re all waiting
to go back where we belong,
or some place new that will have us.
Any minute now,
someone in charge will give us the word.
Or, if there’s no one in charge,
then someone will wake me.

John Grey

Sunlight on linoleum.
Empty kitchen chair.
Coffee cup stacked
on other coffee cups.
Each another word
for absence. 

Blender, microwave,
can opener…
of all this room’s appliances.
I am the most useless.
When you’re not cooking,
my hunger can’t be bothered. 

I figured the bedroom
would be the scene
of dam-burst eyes,
no sheets, no blankets,
mattress indentations
reverting to the mean. 

But no,
first sight of cupboard,
first brush with sink,
my sorrow’s done enough
for today. 

Many years ago, I asked the question:
does the refrigerator light
really go out when you close the door?
I believe you’ve answered it.

John Grey

Your father was lost in the woods.
He tumbled off a cliff into a deep crevasse.
He was eaten by a bear.
He was kidnapped by moon-men. 

No backwoodsman, no mountain climber,
no adventurer, no rocket scientist like him
would simply pack some shirts
and trousers in a suitcase,
kiss a child on the cheek,
drive off in the lesser of the two family cars,
and never be seen again. 

But the woods were a marriage.
The cliffs were boredom.
The bear was Michelle
who tended bar at the pool hall.
And the moon’s what you stare at,
the man most of all.