John Grey

    Australian borne Poet, John Grey joins us this week.


    This is the spot exactly.
    The lake, the cliffs.
    They’ve been in my head all the years.
    This is where I asked the girl…
    now what the hell did I say?
    and who was the girl?
    But the swallows,
    surely the same shimmering
    blue and gold birds
    lapping insects from the air.
    And the rocks,
    especially the one
    where I contemplated
    for an hour or more
    what I would say.
    But what did I say?
    And who did I say it to?
    The spongy grass,
    turtles basking on a log,
    bloodroot, swamp candles…
    there’s no secrets from my memory.
    But I’ve this scenery
    and where’s the other character,
    what happened to the dialog?
    At least I got the spot right.
    And I remember myself
    if no one else.
    And even if I don’t know
    what I said,
    I’m sure I said it.
    But what was her response?
    And why does the landscape say it better?


    What a view.
    So close to the ocean
    I can see the people in swimming,
    even lip-read them saying,
    “What a gorgeous day.”
    I’ll be in to join them later.
    Salt in my ears, nose, throat,
    just the way I like it.
    When I’m not tanning that is.
    And what about the staff.
    They’re like servants with smiles.
    My wish may never get over
    not being their command.
    The food, of course,
    is tropical and delicious.
    And there’s always more where
    that came from.
    Don’t worry.
    I’ve been a frequent visitor to the exercise room.
    No extra pound
    leaves that sweaty place unwasted.
    And what a great room.
    Plenty of space to spread my stuff.
    Clean enough to pass
    an aunt’s inspection.
    And the bed so soft
    I may sleep away my vacation.
    But then there’s the nights.
    Why must there be the nights.
    Ocean goes invisible on me.
    No water. No sun.
    At the dinner table,
    My plate is taken away
    for the very last time.
    The staff go with it.
    Back to my room, so big, so empty.
    So clean. Not a trace of life.
    The bed’s comfy
    so why can’t I sleep.
    Too bad the exercise room is closed.
    These pounds will be
    with me until morning.
    Nothing else will.


    By then the routine was firmly fixed:
    disappointment in love, rush home, write poem.

    Misery was all it needed for the words to lay on thick.
    And every one the same: suicide note plus metaphors.

    It was early teens: shave twice a month, rock
    and roll, “Catcher In The Rye”, moon over Diane.

    And impractical: Couldn’t drive. No money.
    Not ugly as sin but homely as minor transgressions.

    So sloppy poetry it had to be. And rhymed like Wordsworth.
    I was thankful her name was Diane (can, man, ban, ran) and not Joanna.

    And the poems still exist. Otherwise how would I know
    her name was Diane. Yellow paper. Typewriter with a fuzzy “D”.

    So this is how it begins. Pain. Words. Thirteen year old girl
    who’d be fifty now if she’s not dead. But I excuse myself.

    Hell, I was only fourteen, shave twice a month, rock
    and roll, “Catcher In The Rye”, moon over Diane. And poetry.

    It gets no better. Over time, I improved enough to write
    when I was happy. And you don’t know how sad that makes me.


    1 wanted Venice of the Doges Palace
    but my guide showed me to a rat-infested room
    overlooking a knave’s used car court-yard.

    Canals like veins lured me
    but sewers like thoughts was what the menu oozed.
    No gondolier, merely me in a basement bar
    sailing off into the damaged sunlight
    in a leaky boat of cheap wine
    and conversation convalescing
    from a bout of lousy Italian..

    Tourist I thought I was
    but instead an out-take from “Don’t Look Now’,
    a cutting on an unswept floor.
    St Mark’s Cathedral, anyone?
    The closest I came was a postcard
    I picked out of a puddle,
    soggy, muddy, its crosses snapped, its saints drowned.

    See the Bridge of Sighs while you’re there, they told me,
    I partook of many rusty iron bridges,
    and a burp or two that could have been sighs
    in their wildest dreams
    but nothing in me made the connection.

    So, there I was, boarded up
    in some unholy dive,
    with weak, sickly companions,
    and a taste for emaciation,
    discussing dream movies where
    Mario Bava sends Umberto D
    to the slaughterhouse,
    castrates the bicycle thief

    I saw the pitted face of London,
    the mildewed underwear of Paris,
    the smog-laced eyes of Athens,
    the rotted cab backseats of Rome,
    and finally, the unwashed underarm of Venice
    that no Titian ever laid a brush to,
    no Adriatic ever washed its scales.
    God, the depths you sink to
    when you never leave home.

    Australian born poet, works as 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.


About vision791

Pushcart nominee Jeanette Cheezum has been published on several online writing sites and in fifteen Anthology books and four poetry books. Three of these books have made the New York Times Best Sellers list. Awarded The Helium Networks Premium Writer’s Badge, Bronze Creative Writing Award and a Marketplace Writers award. Recently she has published fourteen ebooks at Barnes and Noble and Amazon. You may find a list of some of her work at
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2 Responses to John Grey

  1. Jeanette Gallagher says:

    Fantastic poetry I enjoyed so much – each poem stands alone and it’s thought provoking and poignant. I find your work so easy to relate to – thank you John Grey.

  2. Thanks, John, for your return to cavalcadeofstars.

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