Three poems by John Grey


Some memories are thin air.
Or they take vacations,
for years, some of them.

And they’re lazy.
Not workaholics like
the ones I’m pleased to remember.

Or they’re restless
like the people in them,
don’t stick around for
when I want to recall.

Or they’re considerate,
slip away, knowing that
a mind is limited,
and room must be available
for ideas.

As to why
you’re a stranger to me,
some memories are good
at taking orders.



The day is long but not long enough
for now the dark grimly enters the picture.

My lights come on automatically,
to mimic my breath and my heartbeat.

The closer I am to my destination,
the more endless the journey feels.

Earlier, the horizon guided me.
Now the road ahead disappears into oblivion.

Even though I know where I am
and where I’m going, the night is unsettling.

For this information is now mine alone.
I don’t know what I should be doing with it.



I can’t remember.
All I can come up with
is the white-eyed blankness of a china doll.
No dreams possess the face.
Can’t say “I love you”
or even “Don’t count on it.”

And this other one.
The corrugated gray hair is familiar.
But I try for flesh and I get galvanized iron.

And a third.
She’s surely sputtering words at me –
a banjo-twanging southern drawl –
but her expressions don’t follow.
There’s no one there.

The surrounds have taken the impress
of so many people.
But they’re no good with faces.
Give them skulls
and they stretch skin over,
unwrinkled, unknowable,
tight as drumheads.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in
Midwest Quarterly, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work
upcoming in South Florida Poetry Journal, Hawaii Review and the Dunes

Affair by John Grey

Models slink on down the catwalk.

beating of their hearts,

scenery they pass through.

as young as passports

just such a time as this


I like to believe

at least.

in midnight

at my very own table.

at some affair or other: charity ball,

the impediment of my flesh

at the waterhole

Away, away with me.

Drama by John Grey


agony of nausea

is almost a solid thing

to one side of him


as if times were made of pie crust

being towed away

while blanket that covered it

is cold as the ashes

that don’t float off,  don’t move


life hung straight up in the air

too tired now to lock its own doors

rats sang in dark corners

to the riff she played


smoke didn’t dissolve,

someone larger staggered dazed

she stood all night

stiff and yellowish

straight up and down

such depths everywhere

like corn fields


air that seeped

in the sorrows of the world

jittered the wet air


there is no waking

not anywhere.

through the rusted screens

time passed –

to swell toward the sun-sparkled



she heard bodies

veil of smoke

voices in other rooms beginning

where patterns leave off

Drag Race by John Grey

as coyly as
the inevitable
can’t stop itself

I jerked and throttled
security booting
a hustler out of a lobby

slapped his face
in a glass of solution

as sudden as a flare
everything unreal
exquisite silence
passed the other cars as if they
pushing off from the bottom
set to ease
many miles down the road
in nice shiny looks

Argument by John Grey

she spoke
like a

fashion model
on a catwalk

what he said
was like a fishing boat
lost in fog

and yet
her search light
was swallowed by the mist

his compass
went right up
a slinky ass

their agreement
couldn’t see a thing

was out of
their price range

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia College Literary Review and Spoon River Poetry Review.  


A Dose by John Grey

But it’s the

only way I know

But whether

it’s an old lonely woman,

my favorite character

in ”Dracula.”

My granny’s okay

with it though.

Or a vampire

Or the ghost of someone

who prefers the conversation

of others,

retelling it so dramatically,

Rick and Rob


smothered to death

what if cheeky Annabelle

is the same.

Sometimes I

even recall a movie

I once saw

staring in my window

And you have

to wonder why

I’m terrified to death.

Good Characters but Nowhere by John Grey

Great portions

of life are gone forever.

growl  grunt,
gruesome beats

guarded, deliberate

from guillotines
to dodo birds

to guts wrapped round my ribcage,

hard crusts from hearts,
hard disks of  head;
hard floor,   uncomfortable bunks,
hard going, blood-chilling effort behind

needed an extra incentive

sold off
this lump
of bone-weary flesh

rolled over
on top of you

saw my neighbor

he says, it wasn’t so bad


he shows me what he wrote
he slices his cheek with a knife.



John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, South Carolina Review, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Cape Rock and Spoon River Poetry Review.  


Day After by John Grey

While your last night

cruised the silk road

to the light-swollen stars,

today you log long hours

under a tree,

like a fallen apple

wondering whatever happened

to all that weightlessness.


Where, in evening’s dark promise,

women were carafe-shaped

with the nectar

on their lips to prove it,

in the heat of noon,

one could just as easily

call you from a window,

to move something,

trash probably;

a mountain maybe.


When entire hours

hypnotized you

with their flash and feeling,

these sun-cooked flesh-eaters

merely dull you to the bone,

plop you where they find you

until the raspy voice of duty

shunts you here, there,

with your head cauterized

and heart nowhere to be felt.


It’s how lives are lived around here

sometimes, to the fullest,

most times, in spite of themselves.