John Grey


The soldier has been through security.

He’s done the kissing,

shaken the hands,

surveyed the faces,

told himself

“Yes, I’d die for every one of these.”


But now he’s at gate 11,

hunched into a plastic chair,

his roll behind his knee,

nothing but strangers

as far as his eyes can see.


If the roadside bomb explodes,

if the local recruit turns his rifle

on this unwitting American liberator,

these are the ones he’d be dying for:

the drunk guy at the bar,

the old woman with the black moustache

coughing and spluttering over cigarette withdrawal,

the pock-marked kid with his head in an I-Pod,

the brats whining, the bored young girl,

the scruffy looking family in bulging shorts

and Mickey Mouse t-shirts.


His ultimate sacrifice is not

what it used to be,

He’s not even dead yet

and look who’s living.



A month or two from now

there’ll be the child of a child.

It will grow up with a mother

who seems like a sister.

It will be pointed at

in supermarket aisles

as much as it is patted

on its curled up bright pink fingers.


The good work of the uterus ignored,

it will be the brood of whispers,

of how will she support the poor thing

when she’s never in her life held down a job.


There’ll be no pride in the girl

on her sixteenth birthday.

No smile either.

She’ll settle on endurance

as a facial expression.


On a warm Sunday afternoon,

she feels her little man

kicking and grabbing,

can almost hear him giggling.


The two of them occupy the patio

on the edge of a busy world.

“God bless the child,”

she sings softly to a passing car.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Mudfish and Spindrift with work upcoming in South Carolina Review, Gargoyle, Sanskrit 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 thirteen ebooks at Barnes and Noble and Amazon. You may find a list of some of her work at
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One Response to John Grey

  1. bobbietroy says:

    Very powerful and moving work.

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