Sunday 30 January 2022

Five Wonderful Poems by John Grey




Now this is the sorry bit. I know the guy.

In fact, I warned you if you remember.

But, then again, he can charm warnings

to death. But he’s as soulless as a dime. 

The fact that you’re bawling your face

to pieces - he could care less. He can

shut it down, call it off, just like that.

That’s just how he is. Time will heal you.

But it won’t change him. He’ll go on

breathing, cajoling, working, seducing,

sleeping, getting what he wants and,

most of all, dreaming his way out of

the dreams of others. In other words, 

he’s full of shit. And, had you listened

to me, I wouldn’t be listening to you now.

THE JOB INTERVIEW                                                         


The question had to be asked

            and duly answered:

would I, duly scrutinized,

            be taken on as an employee –


factors in my favour:

            my CV -         


bravely enough therefore,

I entered the room

where a man sat behind a giant desk –

            a potentate

            a presence      

a pope –


while I proceeded

as noisily silent as scuffling slippers

a pitiful creature

he could smell the fear

before he even lay an eye on me –


sat down in the imposter’s chair

a relic from death row

where others had trembled before me:

            the rejected

            the banished

            the suicides –


in the wind from his words

I fluttered helplessly,

jabbed by his tongue,

the remains of my confidence bled,

constrained by his inquisitor’s glare,

I muttered nothing that would warrant his faith in me:

            yes I could

            maybe I could

            I think I could –

could I?


he read me in the face,

he read me on the page,

he read me in blobs of sweat,

in the paltry tap of fingers:

            we will get back to you –

he said that to the back of me.


He told you
how special you were.

That you were better than
your siblings,
even the woman he married.

You accepted
your father's will
and the big lie
over what your
budding conscience told you.

Oh you tell yourself now
that it meant nothing,
you were just going along with it,
that you could have said "no"
at any time.

But he wasn't a man who listened.
And you weren't a young girl who spoke.


Often I passively surrender
in hope to reanimate
as landscape,
closed eyes, diminished thoughts,
and a grass bed for my fading backbone.

What are birth and death
to the splendors of initiation?
Contact here and there
to complete connection?

Mostly I fall asleep
and then somebody wakes me.
But, for a time there,
I was the one doing the waking.


On the morning after your initiation,
you wore a great long gallows face,
ravaged like the watch on your wrist,
that target of your contempt,
a haggard red right eye
with a clotted iris grazing,
jaw chewing nothingness,
and the steady gaze of temporary blindness,
stomach puckered like a giant dimple,
lips tight and thin and fuming,
and yet, you were now a full member
of whatever it was you were initiated into -
too bad you couldn't remember.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, “Leaves On Pages” “Memory Outside The Head” and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Ellipsis, Blueline and International Poetry Review.


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