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by John Grey


My Conveyance

The tires are low
but who has time to pump them up.
And the tread on the back driver's side
is wearing thin
but it'll last for what I need to do today.
The engine protests with every mile.
Needs an oil change,
new belts, a carburetor with less
of an attitude.
And the battery's no prize.
I turn the key ten times
before it kicks in.
But I'll take what I have.
It's only today after all.
No one's promised me tomorrow
so why prepare for it.
So I stall out at the light on Cunningham.
And the brakes give me that uneasy feeling
that any squeeze of foot on metal
could be their last.
But how many times does a man
need to stop this day.
As long as those brakes and I
are agreed on the number
then they can go on squealing
like an eagle's talons down a blackboard.
I've enough car
for enough time,
enough gas,
enough body and mind
to move this clunky heap of metal
from where I am
to where it needs to go.
I am, after all, this moment,
not the next,
this breath,
not twenty breaths from now.
The car is my awareness,
my identity.
It can always get me where I am,
no problem.



a line, (a short blue one)



I See The Kid Arrested


I'm wondering

what he did,

what I did,

what we all did.


And who are those guys

snapping the cuffs on

the wrists

of that scared kid,

on my wrist,

on all wrists,


He's being led away

and I've no clue

where he's going,

where I'm going,

where all of us are going.


But soon he's in

the cop car

and gone

and I'm still here.


He gets what

he has coming to him.

It's no longer

coming through me.




a line, (a short blue one)





We drive by the site of the murder.

No body, no blood-stain,

no cop car with whirring siren,

no ghoulish bystanders.

But there's no people either.

Not a soul in sight.

It's just this brick wall

with faded election poster,

a sidewalk with weeds poking

through the cracks.

I stop the car, get out.

You stay behind.

I am exactly where the victim was.

You could be as close

as the killer.

We're at the site of a murder

and it feels as if

I'm the first since then

to stand here and wonder,

what if it happens to me.

And who but you,

from such close range,

could ask yourself

what if he's the one

I do it to.

It's not even a murder by this.

H could be love

for all we know.

It could be whatever

we feel or fear

could happen with another.

No violence, no death,

no arrest, no execution.

But we leave the site of that murder

like it's the crime-scene

of something in our lives.




a line, (a short blue one)



Photograph Of A Beach Bum


No reason to smile apparently,

despite the comfortable beach chair,

the umbrella, scattered petals

of sun and shadow all over

the face and bare torso.


The warm isn’t happiness enough.

The gifts of clean sea air

and sand twinkling his toes

just can’t move that mouth

in the direction of joy.


When I was his age,

a day by the shore

was like a breakout

from the job’s jail,

a blessed hideout

from other people’s expectations.


But wait,

this is a picture of me.

I’m not just lolling about

in the gorgeous weather.

I’m not enjoying myself.

And I’m busy doing whatever…

should anyone be looking for me

in 1987.




a line, (a short blue one)



Man In A Gray Suit


Yes, I wore the suit,

the tie,

and crossed the threshold

from real life

into corporate.

I made believe

that a flow chart

mattered more than any lifeline,

and a sign on the wall

that read “Teamwork”

was ten thousand times superior

to “Catcher In The Rye.”

For the bottom line was

that I had to make a living.

Though, to my bosses,

the bottom line

was the bottom line.



a line, (a blue one)


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