by John Grey




She Was Never The Crash Victim


After the crash,

there was no going back into her body.

Her nose was broken,

head split open,

spine crushed,

one arm half-torn from elbow.

Nothing looked familiar.

"Get her out of there!" someone shouted.

But she was long gone.


Her father identified the body.

His breakdown said it all.

"Yes, that's her."

He never did know his own daughter.

More than remembering the color

of her hair a month ago,

surely he knew

her nose was fine, her head together,

her spine straight and firm,

her arms supremely attached and swinging.


At the funeral home,

the casket was closed.

At least, no one would make

the same mistake her old man did.

They just wept.

Friends, family, co-workers,

even the attendants in their dark suits.


Then they buried the coffin...

just for the sake of burying something.




a black line





You staggered

down the sidewalk,

were almost hit

by a car as you

tried to cross the street.

Then you ducked into

an alley to relieve yourself.

And you began to sing

the cracked melodies

of Old Granddad.

You'd be home


and I would hear you

fall through the front door,

lurch and gobble

up the stairs.

But it was a cop

who stopped you that night,

who listened to your bleating,

who dragged you to the cell

to dry off until morning.

He booked you,

he lectured you

and he tossed you

into some hell-hole

where you really did belong.

So I got the gift of silence

that night.

And I got the penalty

of guilt and uselessness

for being a boy

and not that cop.




a black line



Disturbance, 2.00 AM


friend calls

says he and his woman

had a fight,

she walked out on him,

asks for my advice


it's two in the morning,

he's woken me from

a deep sleep,

my wife also


I tell him to take a sleeping pill

or a nice hot bath,

pour himself

a glass of wine

or listen to some jazz


I throw out

twenty or more suggestions

all of which I'm sure

won't work


of course

the smartest thing he could do

is call a friend,

wake him up,

disturb his woman


talk to someone

now equally at odds

with his loved one


but he knows

that already




a black line



The 70'S Strangler


No one says anything out aloud.

The fate of two innocent girls

throttled by a crazy man

can only be whispered.


People stay with light,

cling to company but

even then they tremble.

They're all waiting for


someone to break down

and cry, "The strangler will

get you if you don't watch out."

They can all laugh then.


But that's a long time yet.

Reality needs to ferment into legend.

The cops arrest some guy - a tramp,

a stranger. He gets life in jail.


And thirty years into the future.




a black line



Early Morning, Northern Woods


He's up at dawn, shower, shave,

half a cup of coffee,

then on the road in blinding fog.

Past the lake, the cabins,

he slows, thinks he saw something

big as a truck, off there in the woods,

and rumbling toward him.

His whole body trembles.

Everything on all sides

is on that nervous cusp of invisible.

It's there. Then it's not.

It appears. It disappears.

That's when the sounds take over.

That's when his journey capitulates.

Suddenly, a giant moose bounds

across the ghostly highway

ten feet or so ahead of him,

crashes into the brush on the other side.

His heart struggles to breathe.

His lungs try to beat.

I could have been killed, he tells himself.

as he drives on.

He's up at dawn, shower, shave,

half a cup of coffee,

then out there where the dice keep rolling.




a black line


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