Posts Tagged ‘John Grey’



That’s what comes of marrying a soldier.

He’s there and you’re here.

It’s hot as Hades in his desert.

The weather’s just fine

in your temperate zone.

He gets shot at.

Your phone rings.

He scours the countryside

for home-made bombs.

You pick up the receiver.

Any moment could be his last.

You talk to your friend Anita for an hour or two

about how lonely it gets.

He sleeps in a makeshift barracks.

You drift off in your soft and cozy double bed.

He makes it through another day.

Maybe you make it through October.




Shadows of late afternoon,

closed sign in a shop window…

dusk drives out the light,

tamps the business,

sends the people home.

I look at my silhouette

as I hang out here,

stretched interminably,

longer than I’ll ever be.

My flesh is so perilously close

to being just a tenth of what I am,

as I read the sorry tale

of Bessie’s luncheonette…

it’s much too late to feed you,

even to call you by your name,

speak to you.

There’s just me in her window,

half reflection, half closed-sign.

And my shadow’s off

to link with other shadows,

until their shapes have nothing to do

with me, with signs, with restaurants.

Soon, I’ll be alone in the dark,

sitting on some broken steps,

as hungry as tomorrow must be,

a closed sign in a window,

open for business.









I shove my anger in a drawer.

I stroll through fields, wallow in anthemis.

Sun gleams with fresh light.

You can do that when you’re not mad at anything.


My anger breathes better when it’s stowed away.

Though it’s far from me, in dark, it doesn’t know that

Underwear and socks, meet the stain on my heart.

Though it makes itself comfortable, it is still anger.


My anger is a fire in a cold, cold place.

It kills what comes close, mostly itself.

It becomes nostalgic, hasn’t seen a bruise in years.


I return home and let it out.

It joins me in restless sleep.

My body’s tanned a little.

My dreams have claws.





guy’s got a  briefcase

loaded up with fake Timex watches  –


another’s selling Guccci handbags  —

it’s that extra “c” that makes  the difference —


ever wonder what an American  Tourister suitcase

would be like if it weren’t  American Tourister?

wonder no more –


for twenty bucks,

the best of imitation Fifth  Avenue fashion can be yours –

throw in another  ten

and you get phony Madison as well  —


Pierre Cardinn,  Sacks,

even a mickey mouse Mickey Mouse  watch ~


anything can be  had

as long as you don’t want  something –




His tales of how it used to be

are withering on the tongue.

People were always welcome

in each other’s homes.

They shared the water and the fields.

And then the soldiers came.

Or was it the thought or the plague?

How good it was, how bad it was,

are fogged up in his brain.

His wife feeds him from a spoon.

Once, people were always

welcome in each other’s mouths.

But then the spoon came.

Or was it the drought or the plague?




Instead of worrying, weeping,

I’m expected to read a month-old Sports Illustrated,

where guys born in the ghetto

make it all the way

to the championship game

and the worst that can happen

is to lose with dignity or a big new contract.



But Rachel’s in the MRI pod.

Close your eyes and imagine

all your favorite princesses, we told her.

Or a lake with gold fish swimming

just below the surface.

An elephant. A beach ball.

Anything but face to face

with the inside contours of a metal cylinder.

I forgot to suggest

a gymnast recovering from a broken leg,

her eyes still set on the Olympics.



On the other side of the waiting room wall,

the chamber is spinning,

the bed she rests on

is moving in and out.

Someone’s taking pictures of her head.

I’m looking at a close-up of a Laker

reaching up through three Piston defenders

to dunk the basketball.

If the game was her brain,

that’d be a keeper.


This is where the couple were killed

crossing the road. So I am careful

as if I’m holding a baby.

Amanda’s ball bounces fearlessly

among the tractor trailers. Had Clara

and Joe been made of rubber,

hollow inside, maybe they’d have survived.

“Don’t worry,” I shout to a tearful Amanda.

“I’ll get it back for you.”


It’s been a hot, dry summer.

Jake is watching from the window.

He can hold his breath but

not as long as the sky’s been doing.

“Jesus, child, be careful.

First it’s cousins. Then it’s crops.

What next does the good Lord

want to take from me.”


The dog could care less.

He’s chasing an insect. First,

he maims it with his paw.

Then he lets it go ’cause, despite the weather,

he’s not done pursuing.


And Rita’s in bed for the fortieth day,

fortieth night. She doesn’t have to wander

in the desert. It comes to her.

She’d give her painful right leg

to be able to cross a street

under her own steam,

even if it meant dodging

the Caspers in their rusty pickup.


Suddenly, would you believe it,

there’s a gigantic pause to the road.

Where two minutes before,

it had been a crazy freeway full of cars,

now it’s as empty as a football field at dusk.

I could picnic on the center line.

Amanda’s about to run after me

but I tell her “No… stay.” Even nothing

can be dangerous around here.


Joanne’s in the kitchen.

She’s in love with the smells

her leather hands can muster.

She loves to bewilder the local

noses with helping of spices

she picks up in the city.

And who does she have to cook for…

Rita who can’t taste a thing,

Jake who doesn’t know sirloin from possum.

And Amanda’s only five years old.

Like me, she’d rather cereal than anything.

Joanne stares intently at her spice rack.

Maybe she should label them all ingratitude.


I’ve got so many reasons to hate summer.

The mice are so sassy, peek up from the

grass and poke their tongues. And my

ears don’t stop buzzing with mosquitoes.

And the ants are in everything. Jake

sprays, Joanne swats, but Rita can’t do

anything but feel them crawl across her face.


I’m on the opposite side of the road,

ball in hand. The vacuum awaits in

the parlor. It’s my chore. Hate the job

but I must admit I love the rollicking

sound it makes. Amanda finds a moment

of patience from somewhere, stands

there patiently while a lumber truck

rolls by, a tanker, a Cadillac, and their

mirror images the other way.


I could have Rita’s life here in my hands

as well for all the use she gets out of it.

And Jake’s blooming field rained on by my young

flesh, long hair, how far my eyes can see.

Even enough insects for the dog to chase two canine lifetimes.

And the meal Joanne prepares that has

everyone sprawled back in their chairs

and sighing “Wow!” Damn, the ball’s

got a nail in it. Just my luck. By the time

I return the world to Amanda, it will be a flat one.




Only the dipping neck

of the bird posed over

the drinking glass is sane.

Its dialectic bobbing

is a relief from

the chaos around it,

the waitresses who dash

back and forth in my head,

cooks angrily snatching

orders from clips

in the busy diners of the heart.

It substitutes for the dream.

I do not have to be

at the center of a vast amphitheater.

There is no need for tours

buzzing all around me,

students with notebooks,

guides proficient in a thousand languages.

The bird can be my doubts,

my prognosis, my premonition.

It can be the vague faces on the wall,

the stuff half-heard,

the person I thought I knew.

A child of its physical limitations,

it has nothing better to do

than be clear and precise.

Dip, pop back, dip, pop back.

It works every time.

A man in the background

is lecturing the crowds

on where I let them down

but the bird responds to its mechanics,

dips down into the cold beer

of the universe,

rises back up into the light,

the taste of understanding on its lips.

three screens
song, audience, woman
leave me as an island
leave me to the knife
my mettle near broken
body pinned lifelessly
by loud radios
outside rainbow
red-lit by reinvention
of the fading sun
head remembering rhinestones,
sea-shell scarves,
and ruffed sartorial style
self-indulgent, self-righteous
busted guitar, unplugged mic stand,
stage shirt ripped and caked with sweat-mold
splash my blood
make wall-paper stains
like sheet music
I’ll play that

How can I make you believe the tiger, the lion,
who ones who lived here gored by tusks,
along these roads with the poisonous snakes
and the ants up to their armpits;
you think the people just lounged
on the creaky old veranda and whittled,
or slept down by the creek,
fishing pole poking out of droopy hands;
but there were wars against bears,
struggles with sharks, days when
hyenas stalked the gravel driveways,
vultures sniffed for rotting meat;
these are brave men bleeding
from their scorpion bites
and don’t let the buzzards tell you otherwise.

Such brown water under that bridge.
And a network of spies
buzzing from the tail buildings,
the eyes of drunkards.
And when sensation and invention
get together, what is there left but visitation.
Not Virgin Mary, thank God.
But the woman from that space capsule,
in satin silver suit,
a glass cage on her head,
telling you how often she was raped
by all those men
in that damnable tiny capsule,
as they shrieked “Sputnik!”,
moaned “Challenger!”,
greeted her “no’s” with
“If America can send a man to the moon
why can’t I suck on your left nipple.”
Go away, Space Virgin! you scream.
The water’s dark and moody as a starless heaven.
The buildings have never seemed more
like sacrificial temples even though
you have a friend who works in one.
And the bums aren’t begging for change
but telling you that the next time will be different.
Whoosh! Another launch.
Zoom! That whole other universe,
the one that no one sees but you.