John Grey is an Australian born poet. Recently published in Slant, Southern California
Review and Skidrow Penthouse with work upcoming in Bryant Literary Magazine, Natural Bridge and Soundings East.
AT LEAST A RUNG ABOVE THE OX
The cranium treasures, when they arrived, were unexpected.
After that time, knowing what I know arrived on cue
like the Mississippi outside Aunt Jessie’s New Orleans home.
Yes, there is a mind Virginia, and it works adequately, even avidly at times.
It’s not afraid to admit that it remembers a name –
of a friend, even of the 33rd president.
It can configure a television remote
or even sort out where a leaking tap went wrong.
And while other body parts are caught up in yearning,
it can conclude. Even offer a defense.
I can easily convince an ox that I know more of its story
than it can possibly know about mine.
That doesn’t make it any less an ox.
But it guarantees that I’ll never be hitched to a plow.
Down the street, I’m sure they make love
like pounding clothes on rocks.
I reckon it’s so physical,
they can’t get past their bodies.
How much gentler here,
and yet more robust than the sunset.
Your skin like cloth selects itself
to complement the twilight.
It is young and altogether holy,
constancy embedded in desire.
Must stop thinking of men and women
comparing their bodies in rooms south of here,
pounding their beds to pieces like rutting dogs.
It is sweet, this silence.
We have not chosen to be harsh,
or cruel like fish flapping in a net.
We touch soft, almost poignant.
In our ocean, sea-life swims free.
The sun’s gone,
likewise the great, euphoric madness.
This is the sweetest time –
no sex left and both delivered
to each other’s arms.
Perfect, I’d call it.
You remain virtuous.
I feel pure, a light inside a stone.
Meanwhile, down the street,
they’re at it again and again and again.
What else can go wrong for them?
SARAH IN THE BATH, MEET SARAH IN THE POEM
The cops never came once to interview my poetry.
The August 1996 issue of a litzine could have
have told them everything they needed to know
but they searched her drawers instead,
looking for the diary she never kept,
the letters no one ever wrote.
The cops made sure all the blood in that room was hers.
Those copious red stains…like that’s all blood is.
And they held up the razor to the light
But it wasn’t the light the razor needed.
They even called in the medical examiner,
the poet laureate of wrists and veins and steam.
But his work was not for public consumption.
And mine is in the pages of a book.
I dug out the evidence as soon as I heard.
There it was, between odes to cities from the air7
to sex, to forest walks and drunken nights…
what a woman feels and the way that I report it.
Any fool could pick this out of a lineup.
The killer confesses in every line.
And they wonder why she didn’t leave a note.
How many notes does it take to change a light bulb
in some dumb sergeant’s skull.
But cops don’t believe in art.
And how can you even believe in people
when all you know are dead ones.
So come look at this,
you ignorant minions of the law,
page after page of nothing but proof
So you have a corpse…
well what you have is nothing.
I have her living.
That’s always been my alibi.