by John Grey




Advice To A Loser


Get away quickly

even if it means stumbling

on weary feet,

bruised knees,

for the victor is being

applauded bombshell-loud

and overdosed with ribbons.


Go now

before the crowd

and the champion’s gloat

turn their attention

toward the defeated,

the one who has it worse

than even the least

of the spectators.


Who wants to hear,

“He was out of his depth.

He didn’t stand a chance.”

Who wants to be lorded over

by their better and his abettors.

Who wants to feel like

with this loss

a guy’s lost everything.


Reach a place

beyond witness,

where the crowds are strangers

or there are no crowds at all.

And the pain may still hurt

but the surroundings

don’t double down on it.

Go where you can stand,

can breathe.

Sure the hits may keep coming.

But from your own fists this time.

And you know how pathetic they are.




a black line



Blushing Bride


In chilly March, traveling alone across

bare scrub oaks and jagged blackthorn,

in flowing white gown, the lost bride,

taking the first exit of the last hope,

finds herself in elsewhere.


Her fine shoes clatter on stony landscape,

heels catch in rock fissure,

leave behind a haunted hunted shadow,

on frozen pond and withered grass,

as she struggles across the wind-swept barrens.


But all the groom sees

is a trembling tearful woman

curled up on the motel bed.

He can make out where she is.

But not where she is headed.




a black line



Oh To Be Overjoyed


Slumped on the couch

and staring at the ceiling,

the flimsiest of webs,

a modicum of-water stain,

why am I so weary

and yet so full of rancid feeling?


It's spring outside,

a time for beginnings,

with cherry blossoms

on high pink alert,

and the sun as warm

as an arm around my shoulder,

and yet I'm as enervated

as an October leaf,

as sorrowful

as an abandoned bridegroom.


Sometimes, it is impossible

to explain myself.

I am loved by

and love in return

the most wonderful of women.

Tomorrow we leave for the trip of a lifetime.


So why does bliss loll about

as if it barely exists?

Why has joy no energy?

Why does a Spider's doodling

and the evidence of a leaky roof

hold more sway with me

than the palpitations of my heart?

Is it possible to be so happy

that happiness no longer recognizes itself,

assumes the worst?


You enter the room

and the first thing to ask is,

"Are you okay?"

Okay sounds like

something to aspire to.




a black line





We're in a restaurant

The Muzak's turned up loud.

Wherever you are,

sings some booby I'll find you.

You're seated across the table from me.

So who's missing exactly?


The only other diner

is an old man 

eating alone.

Maybe he' s the one

that guy is singing about.

He looks over at us

between bites of his meal.

At least, he looks at you.


Next up is a song about

the guy who stole his girl.

That's when I come into his purview.

If he had the youth, the strength,

he'd strangle me.

Maybe you as well.


Then comes the song

about how he's found somebody new.

The waiter brings the old man

another whiskey sour.

He leaves soon after

with a smile on his face.




a black line



Nursing Home Blues


Old and alone,

head hollowed out,

his name briefly here

but forever on some tombstone.


Dry flowers,

short time and slow blood,

in a room full of trembling fools

afraid to be alive.


No grieving,

just shaking,

or counting out aloud

no further than eleven.


The body’s last days

are pledged to new childhood,

many orders to obey

but without toys to speak of.



a black line


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