John Grey

Poems by John Grey


Out on the night highway, top down,

cocooned by tree shadow,

clouds breaking up with stars,

horizon and sky indivisible,

wind tangling his ever darkening hair,

his whipping sleeves,

all acceleration, no exit signs,

faster, he demands,

miles spill like loose change,

go, go, go, he screams,

as if time itself is too reticent

and only he knows

racing, souping it up, full speed ahead.

A blur, said one.

A headlight tearing at my breath,

confessed another.

The noise of crashing, spinning over.

Flames and smoke. The blackest brightest red.

First gear, second, third, fourth,

then somewhere between

beautiful and dead…the witnesses.


The waiting has to be the love.

Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here.

It’s been two hours so far

of intense feeling, separated now

and then by waddling ducks

and some kids tossing a Frisbee.

I’ve run my fingers through my hair

a thousand times.

I’ve picked at the sore on my left shoulder.

It’s bled. The blood has dried.

More picking. It’s bled again.

I’ve even paced but not impatiently,

more in tune with the beating of my heart,

that instrument, the breeze, the park trees,

the grassy fields, will not stop playing.

The sun is soon to set but not the emotion.

My watch may test the will of time

but it will not tick in anger.

I have all this devotion in reserve.

I could stay here until midnight.

Even later.

I love your absence that much.


A rose appears from almost nothing,

petals of paper fluttering

in his breezy breath.

The transitory shapes

obey his wrists up to the rim of a crimp,

the outside-in, the inside out,

flushed with the routine of memory,

wrinkling and flattening,

squeezing, wrapping, flipping,

fingers trailing his art, his sentience,

by one twist, folded with himself,

in that moment, catching up,

all of him now into shape.

His eyes collapse,

no thoughts, no sound,

nothing beyond his hands,

elongated fingers, papered flower,

brittle, pleated texture,

variegated swiveling folds,

beneath the fastened gaze of children.

Nothing but fleshy parchment,

square into circle,

triangles into bud and stem,

flowering on a flattened palm,

the trick, the triumph, the self,

all overlapped until the next time.


Night, bored with skirting the extremities,

finally enters the city.

It conjures up a storm,

heavy gray drum-roll clouds,

a thousand different beasts,

a thousand different ways.

A building rises

unwittingly on its sacrificial altar.

High priest stabs the upper floors

with lightning.

So what does humanity have to offer?

There’s neon, that phony-conceited brilliance.

And the bare, all American bulb,

Edison’s cure for bad dreams.

In the tenement basement,

a mother scratches around,

a grandmother shrieks,

a restless baby howls.

In the room above,

a man clinks a nervous glass

against his knuckles.

In the window,

a ring of fire, a black emulsion.

On the sidewalk,

a splattering sideshow

as rain digs in.

Twenty blocks lose power.

People gather in dark,

a place of no instruction.

Or they suffer alone,

a solitary wheeze.

So what does humanity have to offer?

A tapped-out match.

A muzzled wick.

Touch does for sight.

The feeling is mutual.


You spoke up

and they took you away

at midnight

in your bloodied shirt

and boots;

no longer sad or humorous,

no longer strong or vulnerable,

cauterized by a bureaucrat’s stamp,

dead of feigned ignorance;

sometime we pray,

a matins for the greatly missed,

but mostly

we go about our business

as if there’s any business

other than the business

of the state;

where are you now,

my friends un-free;

the best of us,

you leave it to

the rest of us.


John Grey is an Australian born poet. Recently published in, Paterson Literary Review, Southern California Review and Natural Bridge. With work upcoming in New Plains Review, Leading Edge and Louisiana Literature.


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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