by John Grey




Church Of First Sex


I was ahead of my years.

I even started my own religion,

sacrificed whatever I could

to the god of darkened movie theaters

or the impressionable sunshine of a spring lake shore.

It was such a natural phenomenon.

Some blondes, some brunettes,

some touched, some watched through a window

with borrowed binoculars.

I was a moveable church

on a mission of animal spirits.

The angels undressed.

The saints licked their lips.

The teenage altars never saw it coming.

Hymns of heavy breath,

church of great anxiety...

and no one worshiped there but me.



a black line



Morning On Lake Como


Whoever’s in the bed behind you

is meaningless.

He is not where the warmth, the light,

are coming from.


Nor is he the glistening blue lake,

the fancy homes and hotels

along the shore,

the sun rising over the mountains.


Let the other move about.

He won’t attract your attention.

He can call out to you.

You will not hear.


You have no head, no heart,

for any life

that is not what your eyes can see.


From a window,

you lean out toward the day.

No one can stop you.



a black line



I Am A Poet Because


Okay I admit it, I'm a poet

but if I was younger, had a better build,

I'd be a male stripper.

Or if I was smarter,

had the education

and the dedication,

I'd be that brain surgeon

or rocket scientist


always talking about.

And if I could deal

with people

I'd be in sales.

And could sing,

I'd be in show business.

I'm a poet

for the same

number of reasons

as there are occupations

that I've neither

the will, the inclination

nor the talent

to tackle.

And, most of all,

I am a poet

because this is a poem

and not two pipes fitted together

or a baby delivered

or an ocean liner

steered into port.

Yes, I am a poet

because someone had to write this.



a black line





It was a close thing.

The man is lying flat-out on the hot sand.

The lifeguard is pumping his chest.

A gurgle of salt water

rolls out of his lips

followed by a briny cough

that clears his lungs.


His wife, in a panic,

rushes up and down the beach,

waving a white towel.

His children look up from their sandcastle,

suddenly realize it’s their parents

who are at the center of all the commotion.


“Dangerous rip out there,” the lifeguard says.

The man is panting like a hound on a hot day.

He tries to give thanks

but his words can’t get out of his throat.


A shoreline of punching hearts

slowly recedes into the calm of tanning.

One guy, from the “serves him right” camp,

releases his smirk,

goes back to admiring the tattoos

on his chest.


A life could have ended just like that.

So many could have been witness

to their first drowning.

But near-death is not death.

A man can get a hug out of it,

not flowers.

Kids don’t have to go to any wake.

They can make a joke about their old man

joining up with the Little Mermaid.

The crowd gain a topic of conversation

but don’t have to face their own inbuilt obsolescence.

And the lifesaver can toss it all off as,

“Just doing my job.”

He has no need to ponder

what the job is doing to him.



a black line


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