the right words
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by John Grey





The word is on the tip of my tongue

but I’m reluctant to say it.

It’s a long word of five syllables

and my tongue-tip is having

a difficult time balancing the damn thing.

It is the word that sums up succinctly

the point I want to make.

But, if I utter it, I fear I will come across

as arrogant, a showoff, an elitist.

So I keep my mouth shut

and think it instead.

A little voice in the back of my brain snarls,

“You arrogant, showoff, elitist bastard.”




a line, (a short blue one)



Crossing The Plains


He slowed up

to pass through a small town

and a woman

hanging laundry in the breeze

waved to him.


She had no idea who he was,

of course.

But a stranger had to be better

than anyone she knew.


And she didn’t know

where he was headed.

But she wanted

to get there real bad.




a line, (a short blue one)



Drive-In Drama


We park under the drive-in eucalypts,

radio on local rock station

Elton John singing “Your Song”

which sounds nothing at all like you,

then a harsh sped-up voice

cuts in advertising Matty’s Mercedes Emporium

and some girlie singing trio

proclaim death to a character called “Louis The Fly.”


Then Rod Stewart’s gravelly tones

warble “Maggie May” –

something about being kicked out of bed –

we are a long way from that –

then more commercials,

for the cigarettes neither of us smoke

and the tacky sugary cereal we abandoned

years before.


There is a screen out there somewhere

showing the movie we apparently paid to see.

But we prefer the closeness

that’s too awkward to come any closer,

the songs about different people entirely,

and the ads that keep up their barrage

but have no meaning for us whatsoever.


“How was the movie,” a friend asks.

“I’ve dated worse,” is my standard reply.




a line, (a short blue one)



A Night In A Downtown Hotel


It’s a room for one.

Perhaps the only one the hotel has.

All others, apparently,

are filled with couples.

and, if not with love,

there’s such a thing as

two-hundred-bucks-a-night togetherness.

It’s ten at night.

And it’s just me and the walls,

the carpet, the bed and the bathroom.

The walls, the carpet, the bed and the bathroom.

The walls, the carpet, the bed and the bathroom.

I deny nothing its dispiriting value.




a line, (a short blue one)



The Coyote


Head-lifted howl,

or high-pitched yips,

that’s more than just some dog

craving your attention.


A creature is keeping

in touch with its pack,

wants nothing to do with you.


And it’s claiming its territory.

Meanwhile, you have the house

on Elm Street.


It’s lanky, bushy-tailed,

with coat of yellowish-brown and red.

It lopes, up on its toes,

with ears on alert.

It’s like nobody you know.


It would come for your chickens

if you had a coop.

Or your small dog

if you let your Maltese stray.


But, mostly,

it’s just out there somewhere.


Nowhere near.



a line, (a blue one)


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