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by John Grey



January Morning In Suburbia


It’s the morning after

a heavy snowfall.


Her mother cooks breakfast

in the small blue and white kitchen.

Her hair is bound up and away from a face

that emerges now and then

from hissing clouds of steam.


The Labrador spies a squirrel

through the icy window.

His own survival is assured

but still he growls

at a creature whose life depends

on foraging in unpromising mounds.


Her father’s outside,

shoveling the driveway,

making mountains either side

of the unearthed car.


Her brother’s in his room

playing video games.

She’s sitting on the edge of her bed,

head bent over her phone,

texting a girlfriend.


It’s a typical Saturday morning

in January.

It’s a still life

with lots of movement.




a line, (a short blue one)



That Sea Smell


The view from the dunes

is as it was when I was twelve years old.

Those could even be my old footprints

squelching deep into the sand.


A gust of freedom

blows off the whitecaps,

through the whistling seagrass.

Here, my thoughts,

accustomed to dealing

in keyboards, monitors,

printouts and spreadsheets,

embrace infinite numbers

content to go uncounted.


The perfume that rises to my nostrils

is a scent preserved, by brine,

from my childhood until now

and it moves me powerfully.

Sights and sounds

my imagination has reproduced

over the years.

But odor is the one thing

that does not work with memory.

I need to be in this exact place

for my senses to catch up with it.


So I gladly inhale something long forgotten.

I’ll remember it fully for as long as I am here.




a line, (a short blue one)



Dawn Light


dawn pulls back

the curtain,

marks the place

where eyes open


it embellishes rooftops,

finds common cause

with bedroom windows


it has escaped

from darkness

not to control

but to enlighten


so land goes to bed a shadow

and awakens as a pasture


my first few moments

of consciousness

are spent thinking about that




a line, (a short blue one)



Taxi Driver


I was driving taxis,

second cousin twice removed to the real money,

some of it touching down occasionally

in the rear-view mirror, furtive and nervous,

or talking on the phone.


The tips weren't big but occasionally,

my curiosity about people was showered

in silver, details of other lives

that jigsaw-ed into mine,

created some kind of momentary whole.


I even took that back to our relationship,

drove taxis in and out, up and down

for those times you hailed me down,

bamboozled me with another version

of your story.


I never did find myself

but I learned the short-cuts.

Didn't lose myself in you either

but I got you where you were going

once or twice.




a line, (a short blue one)





Six months go by,

and amnesia

begins to set in,

her face is not quite

as memorable,

the love not as life-defining.


He burned the letters,

even the poems,

and the photographs

are out of sight

in case he might someday

wish to kiss another.


At least, the guilt has receded.

It’s more like an old forgotten password

than claws around his heart.


He’s tidied up the apartment.

It’s no more a pig sty.

And he’s tidied himself up

to suit his surrounds.


The couch is still there,

the one that he found her stretched across,

a hour beyond that dreaded moment

when she forgot how to breathe.


But the more he rests his body on that sofa,

the more comfortable it gets.

An overdose fades in time.

A cushion is the way forward.




a line, (a blue one)


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