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Six Poems
by John Grey



Blood Rites


I know how this comes out. 

It's TV, it's Africa after all.

The gazelle, head lowered,

neck bent, is sipping at the water's edge.

And those aren't logs floating on

the dark brown surface.

These days, the show is never about the

feeding habits of hoofed animals.

The camera, the bass-heavy music,

always side with the reptiles.

And what's that say about the audience.

Those scaly creatures are our team.

So cheer for the rows of jagged teeth,

the long green scaly tail.

Punch your fist in the air

when that mighty predator

bursts out from the stream,

jaw grabs panicked prey by throat.

Cheer to the rafters at the

splatter of blood, the tear of flesh,

the splashing, rending, riotous rite

of death and devouring.

But am I the only one

who recalls that gentle head,

those soft eyes, the spindly legs,

the nimble tongue slurping.

Is there no one else in TV land,

who wishes that poor thing

would skitter away,

escape those horrendous jaws.

My wife's convinced it's all a lie.

Those many times the gazelle

actually runs to freedom,

go un-filmed or are snipped into

the oblivion of the cutting room floor.

So my favorite nature documentaries

unreel on my wife's tongue.

Commercial time,

I watch them faithfully.



a line, (a short blue one)


In Their Field


Here in farming country,

the train flies by without stopping.

The locomotive has all the power, the passion,

visible to the eye.

The man on the tractor,

hat down over his burnt face,

feels slower than a caterpillar on a branch,

as weak as a hornworm

melting into its own scenery.

And the train is going places,

as many as a voice can get out over a PA

in a minute without tripping on his tongue.


The farmer knows that,

when he finally reaches the far end of the field,

it's time to turn,

parallel his own steps.

There's faces at the window of the train,

with casual glances,

reducing a life's work to a blur,

a moment's break between a sip of coffee

and the pages of a Robert Ludlum thriller.


The farmer knows that the plowing must be done now

if there's to be a precious harvest in the Fall.

It's a long journey, six months of track,

no truckloads of Chicago 'til October.

The passengers till and plant and water

and let the engine do the rest.

Six hours or less of travelling

and the crop is in.



a line, (a short blue one)


Art In Wartime


Picasso buried Soutine,

Freundlich died in the camp,

Merzbau Vas destroyed by bombs...

imagine being...

no I can't even imagine it.

I cuss the weather

when it's too hot to write poetry.

But trying to create something

in the middle of crazy, outrageous , bloody war.


I’d be in a foxhole

tapping out my next breath.

Yet I can play the good partisan when necessary.

I can be Munch dying of anger

at his occupied country.

Or Mondrian fleeing Nazi air raids.

It just needs the proper stage,

an attentive audience.


I require the reader before me

to be Henry Moore under the bombs.

The one following

to be a tortured surrealist

or Dadaist in a charnel house.


Yes, it's the same old

crippled relationships,

damnable family life,

communes with nature,

sideswipes at politics.

But it helps if I sound suicidal.


I can be somewhere,

anywhere on the ground.

Then fly overhead and shell me.



a line, (a short blue one)


Suburban Neighborhood, Full Moon


For every man

that mutates into werewolf,

three take out the trash.

For every woman

who soars into the night sky

on her broom,

five make meatloaf

For every child

who scratches 666

on his flesh

above the wrist,

eleven whiz through

their homework,

so they can watch

"American Idol."

And then for every nosferatu

who stalks the houses

for the blood of virgins,

twenty guys beats him to it.



a line, (a short blue one)


Into Each Life


As we crawl, scramble to our feet,

then walk away from the accident,

another car slams into our wreck,

and another, and another,

and more bodies grunt and squeeze

their way out through the driver's side door.


We're not relieved.

We merely shrug our shoulders,

say, "Shit happens".

From behind us, from ahead of us,

we're swept up in a chorus

of shit happening to so many.


The road doesn't worry us.

Nor do our nerves.

Nor does the Book of Revelations.

Nor the warnings our mothers handed out

back in the dark ages.


We're a little bloody.

We have to walk instead of ride.

But aside from that,

we've never felt better.

On the far horizon, a truck

sideswipes a van.

That could have been us.

If only.



a line, (a short blue one)


The Young Woman Who Will Be Old Some Day


There is no wisdom in her future.

Merely powder caking wrinkles,

lip-stick staining mouth and chin.

The experiences of a life-time

won't still her hand

or stop the wig from

slipping from her head.

She's not saving for tomorrow,

not in her purse, not in her mind.

She keeps staring in that mirror.

It's a lousy teacher.

The only thing it knows is her.





a line, (a blue one)


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