John Grey

SICKNESS

 
Sickness is my secret place,
like this virus that keeps me indoors,
away from all others.
Sure there could be complications
but none of the heart, the head.
The chills inure me.
The headache hones my self-awareness.
And my stomach may roil
but interruptions don’t.

No point denying sickness.
Another virtue
when some unseemly microbe
wants temporary use of my body.
I’m flat out on the couch.
My brow sweats.
Three blankets flow like tide
up to my throat.
But I’m not worried.
No bills are in the room with me.
The phone’s not ringing
with someone who has great need of me.
At least, I won’t be answering it
if it does.

I’m taking pills.
I’m downing medicine.
I’m becoming more and more myself
with a cough and sniffle
underlining the fact.
And I’m drowsy (my personal favorite.)
Nothing can touch me
that isn’t inside of me.
Illness is more of a cubbyhole than writing.

Sure, in a day or two
this will all pass.
No more aches. No more mucus.
I’ll be back out into the world.
The word is “cured.”
The end of a medical condition.
Or a method of preserving dead meat.

 

THE OLD SCHOOL


What did they find when they dug up
the floorboards of the old high school
but promiscuity, adultery,
and even a pregnancy or two.

In the old store-room,
besides filthy couches and broken chairs,
there were twenty bullies, a hundred wimps,
and even two suicides.
Mice sure but also sadism.
And stagnant air to preserve the lot of them.

From the gym, men haul battered equipment.
Did interstate abortions and drinking sprees
really stumble off that wretched pommel horse?
And look at that greasy mat.
You could write your name with one finger
in all those alcoholics.

I'm a little in awe.
Heaped in a pile below my junior year
are blackboards, dusters, wife-beaters, drug abuse and incest.
A globe drops from a high place
explodes into splinters of Europe, Africa,
racism and dread.

They're going to tear the whole place down
and there's not much to salvage.
The old library bookshelf might have some use
but the soap opera?

The brand spanking new high school
opens in September.
And it is September.
So let the spanking begin!

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