John Grey


You're my lover,
self-congratulations, a high five,
beneath the slap,
a heart's tremor,
every woman I've ever known
gathered in a corner of this room -
how could this one stay with me?
why did she leave?
how come it went nowhere?
I want to know why the past
lies so heavy,
that even my triumphs
are the sorry slaves
of that first unwanted wet kiss.
The way ahead summons
the smells of fairgrounds.
cow dung, lakefronts.
This is sweet perfume
with the bitter odor of yesterday.
It's cool ocean breeze
atop hot sticky asphalt.
Even before we start,
I know where this is going.
It can't work because
I once thought it could.



Less than fifteen years of age but more than fourteen,
the fact of her standing before him is beyond comprehension,
with all the years between snapping like violin strings
in the presence of blue eyes fixated in him,
as he proffers a trembling hand that’s grasped by no one.

An unexpected meeting on the street. What are the chances?
She retreats behind her mother. What are the chances?
Tears well up in his eyes. What are the chances?
And who’s taking them? And why now?

What are the chances of a teenager graven with his old image,
of sudden lineage thrust in her face and his?
It’s as if they each in turn have discovered a new species.
But it’s already named…and by someone else.


A rock, a hammer, a lead pipe…
busting windows is a cinch.
Only you have none of these.
And the car is just standing there,
aching to be taken for a joy ride.
Why didn’t you bring some tools?
What kind of a car thief are you?
If only you had a couple of grand,
you could buy some beat-up piece
of crap to go driving around in.
You wouldn’t have to steal then.
And now, you’re so frustrated
you want to smash the glass with
your head. Over and over and over.
One over for the lack of tools.
The second for the paucity of cash.
The third because it’s never over.

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