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by John Grey



A Prodigal Son Pays A Brief Visit


When you return from sitting on the seawall,

or the steps of the monument,

or the park bench beside the young woman,

will this kitchen chair still mean anything to you?


Having squeezed the oranges of the fruit-seller,

stared in the window of the bakery,

or walked by the café inhaling that smell

            of chicory and hummus,

how will you take to the meal

that’s placed in front of you,

that was cooked on this stove,

these hot plates?


Having spent the summer in Rome,

Fall on the west coast,

and winter in the mountains,

what can you think of this tiny room,

with its bland wallpaper,

the old refrigerator humming away,

the photo on the wall of your grandfather?


You’ve been all over the world

but were you ever in a womb, I wonder.



a line, (a short blue one)



A Man Alone


The dark is out

            to limit your knowing –

is that a tenement stoop

or a grave?



the street’s lights blaze

but their comfort

            is immediately snatched away

            by shadow.


Between earth and stars,

street sign and front,

you occupy such little ground.


Any less of yourself

            and you’d be absent

            from this world.


You’re a body wrapped in jacket,

unruly hair, flustered by wind,

            blowing out your eyes.


From a dark alley,

you emerge into the riverfront.

You go down to the river.

The sights resume

            but underwater.



a line, (a short blue one)



Death Of A Rock Singer


I no longer play your music

but please don’t blame me.

It’s the 70’s fault.

They’re so long ago.


But I read the news stories diligently:

where you were found,

who discovered you.

But not the cause of your death.

The law’s lips are zipped.


You’ve survived the OD years

so it could have been a heart attack,

or cancer,

the stuff that happens to the kind of people

who haven’t bought a record album in years.


While I was listening elsewhere,

you became mortal.

Once a body of work,

now just your body.



a line, (a short blue one)



Sled Ride

She's prone on her belly

on the sled

coasting down the gentle hill.

It's her fiftieth birthday,

the reunion,

in an out-of-shape body,

of a childhood skill.

Even at a friendly angle,

she accelerates a little.

There's a moment

when control is lost to her,

and she skims the snow-top

faster than intended.

But then the landscape

shifts into a lower gear,

slows her down,

until she cruises to a halt

on flat forgiving ground.

At her age,

there's still these moments

of release, of abandonment,

but wait long enough

and it all flattens out for her.


a line, (a short blue one)



Your Triumph


Summer keeps you in its thoughts,

as do my closed eyes,

and the stars that came with you

still permeate the sky.


How long has it been?

And yet, how lucid the image.


Lifting yourself out of the pool,

hair drenched,

face dimpled outwardly

with droplets –

I see it plain.


My memory is your triumph.



a line, (a blue one)


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