by John Grey
Guide To The Track
Horses on the track run
against time, also against
the betting stub I'm holding between
my thumb and forefinger.
They've got it in their heads
that if they don't burst out
of those blocks as fast as they can,
they'll be whipped until they do.
And they're whipped anyhow.
One swift blow to the rump,
another to the flanks. The sooner
they cross the finish line, the sooner
the pain stops. But me, I pick
another loser. Maybe he wasn't fast
enough. Maybe he wasn't whipped
enough. Or could be the whipping
had the opposite effect: you lash
me buddy and I'm just gonna suck
it up and make sure you lose.
Maybe that poor creature is just
so slow that all the negative incentive
in the world and it's still not going to pick
up a lick of speed. This is what the
form guide doesn't tell you. It's big
on breeding and colors and the jockey's
Latin name but how things really stand
is lost somewhere among the prize money
and the track conditions. It's why I put my
dreams on something called rags to riches.
And then I go to the track and place a bet.
transformation bedded down
in tree roots
flatters an acorn
into believing that
from a small intimation of self
a man can appear
in the bed beside
a mature female embodied being
one of whom reaches over the other
to answer a ringing phone
"It's for you" -
At The Bend
At the bend of the needy body,
she climbed inside.
she didn't care, naked thirst,
liquid doors pricked opened.
a flood of heroin
quenched into the arm,
which is the subject.
centered here, shivering words,
along with these animals,
inhuman human animals,
as she did and did again,
as her skin is seared,
at its constant absorbing
at terrible pace, into the spine,
at this hard bony spine,
bent like a strong-bow,
carbon fumes inhaled,
cavities of fear come to engineer,
death-spiral delivered by its drugs:
pusher, did you feel her tremble.
there on the other side of her face.
a brain effusion fed at the vein?
Her breath from the dark place
has melted through her chest.
heavy water, her blanched throat,
here, in the underbelly,
she didnt think ever touched,
would be seen again,
if relief should stream
through each crook of the elbow:
in silences and scribbled thoughts,
poison to the body.
its white noise in stilled screams
And. at the fringe of the habit,
red eyes, maybe a purring cat
The Snake At The Bottom Of The Garden
Sure the snake in the Bible
was the fraudster to end all fraudsters.
But what about the one in the bottom of the garden.
Its coiled against the back fence.
Its not venomous. Just a foot or so
of ugly reptile minding its own business.
He looks lost and small in the shadow of the roses,
looks up at me with the fear that I should be feeling.
After all, Im the one who shudders
when I turn the page of a book on wildlife
and a glossy cobra hisses at me from a photograph.
Surely, the tables arent turned this easily.
At this rate, Ill soon be comfortable around loaded pistols.
The snake suddenly makes a slithery escape,
sliding over my shoe as it does so.
I topple backward with shock,
fall to the ground with my palms splayed
to keep the impact away from my head.
I vow to remember this as an attack
by a vicious asp on an unwary man.
My phobias may bend
but no way must they break.
Awaiting A Fishermans Return
A blind eye is best for looking out to sea.
Or even turning the other away, ignoring the French windows.
Too many shadows creep in at this hour,
envelop the fishing village.
And deafness is another advantage.
Theres much too much dread in those ringing bells,
too much anger in the whipping winds.
And stepping outside is like attending a funeral.
The weathervane spins the words Ashes to ashes.
And the church steeple represents one unanswered prayer too many.
Just light a candle, sit in your comfortable chair,
forget about the whirlpool the ocean can sometimes be.
Let night fall around you. Sleep if that helps.
Remember the last farewell.
How warm his arms engulfed you.
Or the boat chugging away from the pier,
the docks cleaned of fish, awaiting the next haul.
Pour yourself a glass of wine.
Hum a favorite song under your breath.
Ignore the pounding of the waves, embrace the heart.
And, whatever you do, dont climb
the rickety staircase to the roof.
Dont take a solemn stroll around that widows walk.
He may yet come home.
But dont get ahead of yourself.
Theres never anyone there.
More poetry from Winamop
Copyright reserved. Please do not reproduce without consent.