John Grey


Why I Am Here And Not In Florida

The owls mock-lugubrious face
is flattered by bright feathers.
The sun shines like a hot plate
on a blue enamel sky.
Winter's under the scalpel.
It's still as cold as the days are short
but inviting light breaks through red eyelids,
glows in the mind a little.
Small animals creep out of hollows
in some wish-fulfillment scheme.
Birds shake off the stiffness in their song.
There's just enough snow
on the ground for footprints.
Scrawny grass is peeping through.
Paths emerge in anticipation of my strolling them.
Sure, February was tough. But instructive.
Only good can come of desperation.


Welcome To Our World

Sunlight turns for home,
glazes our bedroom window,
our eyes like drops of dew,
could not mistake our bodies for anything else,
as smoke starts up in the distance,
and we, only moments before,
asleep in our silent prayers,
celebrate the sky's blue spirit
deep under the covers, deaf to the nightmares.

Time to get up, you are already awake.
I part your hair to kiss your forehead.
Down below, a radiator coughs.
In the master bedroom, I sneeze.
The world outside
is nothing more than an outline of blue snow,
so soothing to see.
We're living where I remember,
far from downtown.
My parents are dead.
This is my boyhood home.
There's been a quiet snowfall overnight
the powdered kind,
little wind, no thanks to winter,
but a soothing gift all the same
that I yawn to accept.

Yes, it's cold out
but no use holding myself back
Some nights when I'm asleep,
my thoughts refute the darkness.
startle me awake, but never terrify -
the fact is that we arc together here,
our closeness layered in:
the dreamless trees, the lawn,
the first trembling light
the alarm clock playing its tune,

Morning brings simple but astonishing news
courtesy of deep breaths.
Our love is in here under blankets,
it's out there, a patch of snow-covered ground
untouched by human footprints.


Why May?

A tiny red trill,
a gray mist fades into the sky,
or rolls up with horizon,
somewhere, a fish-leap splash,
an oak leaf floats above the water-veiled,
already what feeds on what
is disseminated in a flutter of feather,
a rabbit's raised fur,
into a wind that articulates with scent,
in and out of tree close,
here tanager, there finch,
each note, a leaf rustle,
or piqued at open fields
where hawks lunge,
bobolinks panic away the calm of flight,
sun reaps loosestrife, musk mallow,
bearberry and bull thistle,
and human interpretations defer
to the chirp, the puff, of the powers,
the God of this who fills the page
but lacks interpretation.


On The Trail Of The Hawk

Your binocular eye tracks the red-tailed hawk
across the mountaintop.
Your legs follow.

You move like you're wielding
a hand-held movie camera,
stumbling along the rocky trail
to parallel the raptor's soaring.

It's a like a race that only one can win.
You stumble along outcrop and ditch and over log.
The bird rides the thermal like a launched balloon.

And, despite your powerful lenses,
his eyesight still trumps yours.
He no doubt knows you're there.
But as a mere aside
to his vision's true target.

In the cycle of life,
anything smaller, furry, and scurrying
across the valley floor
is ten thousand times more valuable than you are.
He suddenly dive-bombs.
You topple, cut your knee.

The hawk captures, kills.
It has a family to feed.
You bleed
but for no good reason.


Identity Crisis

In the stream,
I'm water.
Fish swim through me
or make camp beneath
the rocks of my toes.

I lie down
on the grassy slope,
take root,
grow green,
invite the minerals,
the rain, the sun,
into my conversation.

Sometimes, I climb
and always to the height
of my mountain,
an eagle's nest of hair,
thoughts like unfettered wind
or dithering snow-flakes.

I'm with you
and I let go this person,
become passion or need,
anger or love,
nothing I can put a face on,
or accede to flesh and bone.

I can never be
just who I am.
I'm in the world.
It complicates my living.


John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.  

For meditation, I have a small space set aside in my study where I will not be interrupted. It consists of a mat and a pillow to bolster my back. I prefer to spend 15 minutes meditating before I set to work for the day writing and 15 minutes when I am done. I find the first prepares me for the tasks ahead and the latter calms me back down after the mental exhaustion of creative work. My yoga exercises take place after first meditation and typically consist of the mountain pose, warrior I, warrior II, triangle, downward dog, baby cobra and child's pose.

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