Editor’s Note: John Grey graced our ‘zine with his poetry last year. Here are three new poems from his pen, and in August we shall publish three more, so you can savor each one.
THE WEDDING RING
The rotten end
to a wrecked season,
footsteps bring no redemption
as wet grass on the feet
merely adds to the machinery of bitterness
until I come across the river
whose undermining poverty
is quieted by discovery
of something illicit
in the shore-weeds –
a dead wedding ring
glistening like bone –
it’s been lost or tossed –
everything on earth
in the same situation.
The question arises –
do I really need all this?
I can live in my brain.
Maybe I should just jettison the body.
Then there wouldn’t be these nerves
inviting unwanted sensations in.
Or the eyes
consumed by what’s visible.
And the stupid nose of course,
tracking smells wherever it may find them.
Not forgetting the ears,
aiders and abettors of the sounds of others.
I could do without the duplicitous tongue,
servant to both the word
and the ever-demanding stomach.
My brain can create.
And it can remember.
They say it’s smarter than
even the most sophisticated computer —
freed of all senses,
it would never have to know that.
But what about the heart, you say.
The brain is logical
but can it love?
Yes, the brain is logical.
That’s your answer.
MY EXPLANATION AS TO HOW WE ARRIVED AT THIS PLACE
I was the one who slipped stealthily through palace walls,
who clung to the shadows of the flaming torches in the hall,
who gripped the columns, grasped the stones.
I was not the guy in the bar
talking up the wreckage of one marriage,
making it sound like a course
in how to put together the next one.
I was in Camelot, or Fotheringay,
in dark time mist, where golden inlays
sparkled, silk curtains swished,
and skins of dead animals clothed footsteps.
That wasn’t me on bar-stool throne,
one hand corralling a beer glass,
the other hanging off the side
like an airplane wing after a crash.
I was the one you glimpsed by the fountain’s amber gloss,
in the enfolding red-green flesh of garden.
I made a lady-in-waiting catch her breath,
a peacock scream, upset a suit of armor.
Think bar-room pickup, think other men,
with their slicked-back hair and florid faces,
jewelry jangling, chest hair crawling out of shirts.
I was threshold moonlight, Paris and Young Lochinvar.
I was brash as any ever seized a maiden
but I burst with stars and myth and romance.
I swept you off your feet and out the door
and over cloud-tongued mountaintops.
I didn’t grope. Nor did I lie.
I wasn’t drunk and settling for you
but high-spirited and taking what I had to have.
Afterward, we ate breakfast in a small restaurant at dawn.
Street-cleaners came by, swept up one story.
Sun dazzling through glass told the other.
John Grey is an Australian poet and a US resident. His poetry was recently published in Homestead Review, Cape Rock and Columbia Review with new work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Poem and Spoon River Poetry Review. Fictional Café was graced with his poetry last year. Next month we will publish three more of John’s poems.