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by John Grey




My Way Ahead


Have to get on with it.

Get caught up in what-if

and I fall behind.

The baby takes center stage.

What is my misery

compared to the curl of its finger,

that half-burp, half-giggle?

Her eyes are in the ascendency.

It’s all about the first word she’ll say

and when she’ll say it.

With time,

the guy will become

more and more anecdotal.

Or he’ll show up in her face,

the asshole.


I have friends

even if I no longer have a lover.

And a fitness regime.

And a laptop,

the only thing he left me.

I refer to it

as the child-support machine.

I write more baby poems

than love poems.

Even the ones that combine the two

are weighted toward

my tiny miracle.


I’m already moving forward.

In some ways,

it’s a relief to know

who’s going with me.

Like when I push baby and carriage

along the icy sidewalk

to the store.

I know what slipping’s all about.

This is me when I’m on my feet.




a line, (a short blue one)



Breathing Exercise


He took a breath.

So close, it could have been one of mine.

I exhaled.

He snared that one like a butterfly-net.

Sounds pure,

sounds blessed,

but I assure you

it was more mechanical

than spontaneous.

His lungs didn’t know the difference.

All air is the same

no matter where it’s been.

Like our feelings toward each other,

it was 20 percent oxygen,

the rest nitrogen and inert gases.

I revert to the science

so as not be confused with love.



a line, (a short blue one)



Thin Arm

You're right.
You aren't much to look at.
No nightmare
but, as dream guys go,
I prefer to be awake these days.

But you answer the phone
when I call.
Your kindness keeps tabs
on my fits of sorrow.

And you're not overwhelming.
You don't take up
more than your own space.
I can commune with you.
That's different than just talking.

only man I know
who boasts more fridge magnets than I do
this is from someone
just on the visible side of spectrum.

You're sure no
muscle-bound hunk
but a thin arm around me
holds up my end of the bargain.



a line, (a short blue one)



The Hurricane


When the hurricane hit,

nothing else mattered.

Not the arguments, not the bitterness,

not my own appalling behavior.

There were no cold shoulders,

no rude silences.

Everyone was suddenly at their best.


Trees fell.

Wires came down.

The ocean swamped the coast road.

Our house shook.

The roof threatened to lift off.


We huddled close together

without even an elbow thrown,

a curse uttered.

We were afraid

but not at odds.


Even in the cruel tranquility

of the eye,

we took comfort in the calm,

as if it was somehow,

a consequence of our better selves.


It would be days before

the memory faded

and we were back to our

fractious family ways.

We had weened ourselves off harmony.

The hurricane was vindicated.



a line, (a short blue one)



An Empty Heart


A tattoo on his shoulder.

A heart this time.

He likes to have it where

a woman like me can see it.


There’s no initials inked into it.

Not even a piercing arrow.


So I now know

what an empty heart looks like

without having to

peek behind his ribcage.




a line, (a blue one)


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