More poems
by John Grey



Jamaican Sunday


There are no people here.

Just trees,

just fruit.


Look around you.

Cane sprouts

but where are the cutters?


The sun is hard at work,


Wind’s busy

loosening the rain,

priming for the growing season.

There’s soil enough

but not one soul.


It makes me wonder

who did all this planting.



the beaches thrive.

Young laughter shoots up

from the sand,

Skin doesn’t tan,

it germinates.

Even old stories bud.




a black line



Why I'm Stuck Here


Odd thing about train tracks.

The flatter the grade,

the farther the horizon they melt into,

the closer the two rails come together

until, in that final blur of steel and light,

they join.


Now what kind of train could handle that,

I wonder.

Not the ones I've rode on,

as solid as a strong-box

and the rattling wheels below

keeping their safe distance.


Must be a train

that flies by me

its sides a good ten feet apart

that gradually shrinks

into its center

when it knows I won't be taking it.


And passengers too,

with the ordinary run effaces

as they peer out at me through windows

that are willing to be squeezed

into nothingness

when they're no longer in my life.


Over the horizon they go,

the journey I don't take,

the people I don't take it with.

And behind them,

the lines that shouldn't merge but do,

the insidious parallels.



a black line



Ms Unique


So you are wearing stilts on this occasion,

to tower over the high and mighty

at some affair or other: charity ball,

political rally, classical concert,

the terms of your performance are not

clear to me, only the act itself,

the high wooden steps, the head

arched so high, it's as if your neck

is one more prop to make you taller.

It's all of a progression I figure.

First there was the clown suit, where you

laughed your way through life's immense depression.

And then the ballerina costume as you

rode on tippy-toe atop a horse as it cantered

around the big-top.

Some were walking, some were watching,

But only you were six legs to their two.

And after stilts, what's next?

A high-wire act to dazzle the many people down below.

Why not a dive from platform to a bucket of water.

Anything to separate yourself from the masses,

that's what you say.

It'd be death to be like everyone else.

But, if you were dead, wouldn't that just astound their living.



a black line



Not Even Thinking of Love


I'm up before her, must get the fire started,                                

step out the door into such bitter cold that

I'm not even thinking of love.

I cross the frozen lawn to where the wood's piled high.

Antarctic explorers are in my head that moment.

The ones that perished, mostly.


I bundle up enough to make a decent blaze

and struggle back against the worst sub-zero temperature can do.

It bites like the snake that's curled around my mind.

It snaps like the tiger my brain is wrestling.


But back inside the house, the threat melts away.

Even the imagined threat vanishes.

Soon enough, the fire is roaring,

the rooms are baking warm.

And I can hear her waking.

Soon, she'll be downstairs and thanking me.

Once again, the hero gets the girl.

It's his reward for not even thinking of love.




a black line





I'm on the beach,

picking up shells, pebbles,

tossing them back

where they came from.

Gulls fly off at my approach.

Not even the presence of a crab

can hold them.

One moment

I'm part of nature,

the next it flees from me.

So my role is not clearly defined.

I can live with that.

And the sand soft,

the sun warm,

I can even take it further.




a black line



On The Subject of Spring


Spring is concerned

with all these new arrivals.

It rehearses the singers.

schools the hunters

in where the big bugs fly,

which soils conceal the juiciest worms.

Spring has my feeders on its list.

the seed I put out

for the newly minted black-silk grackle

or the fledgling oriole.

It keeps watch on my birdbath.

Is it deep and cool and clean enough

for a robin to be splashing?

And. despite suburban sprawl,

spring watches over the thinning stands of forest,

guides the warblers

to their lush green nesting boughs.

With all of its thawing, budding,

flowering, it still has time

to rouse the hibernators out of slumber,

warm passion from winter chill.

Its motto is "Life."

Its newness never gets old.




a black line

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