Ah, small legs kicking, arms scratching
in the womb.
Coming soon, say my unlovely dreams,
the season of birth and dishonor.
No need for celebration or prayer.
A look askance will do.
A shadow or two on my next ten years.
A lottery as to the father.
Come, hospital bed, let me press my baby
to my breast, giving up mother’s milk
and a host of next year’s plans,
for the unquiet sleep,
the ceaseless whispers of friends and strangers.
Come, light, in joyous plenty,
in the supermarket aisles,
the park, the coffee house –
cast wide the doors to the laugh
of the child of children.
The red-haired lady floats in the field
without ever really knowing where she is.
It rains. Her umbrella opens –
she’s a museum piece,
proud legs in tall grass,
her hand brushing aside droplets.
From the misty window,
In my old leather book,
I preserve red hair and angel sketches.
There’s insects buzzing about the flowers.
They plight their troth to the natural world.
Inside the house, a few bandits, outliers, rebels,
circle fresh cooked bread or an undiscerning arm.
Some blooms are designed to lure the bugs they want,
dissuade all those they don’t.
In these rooms we’ve carved out of the wilderness,
the one who wields the spray can sees no difference
between any species, flying or crawling, brash or hidden,
as long as it’s adorned by chitinous exoskeleton.
The outside can encompass — everything belongs.
But within walls, we quickly draw our line of powder
behind the refrigerator, at the foot of the cupboard.
Ninety percent of the differing metazoan life forms on earth
the odds against it just being us.
THE THIN STREAM
A narrow silver vein of earth
flows across the countryside.
It introduces water on a small scale
to the crops it threads.
The skinny greenway of its shore
is a reminder of what the rains can do.
Farmer says it’s not the river it used to be:
half as deep as thirty years ago,
current braked by dam and drought,
fished out and splashed out
by the youth in its rear-view mirror.
Still, it’s the only stream they have in these parts.
Like a life that’s wound down and hurting
but still worth living in.
And lovers still link hands down
by its banks in early moonlight.
And no one dares say,
love’s not what it was.
It can only do
what it has waters to accomplish.
Reminder, regret, resignation, regards –
it’s river enough.
John Grey is an Australian born poet, works as financial systems analyst. Recently he’s published in International Poetry Review, Chrysalis and the science fiction anthology, “Futuredaze” with work upcoming in Potomac Review, Sanskrit and Osiris.