Poetry by John Grey


Telephone jangles. It’s a stranger

trying to sell me on the wonders

of aluminum siding.

You’re in the bedroom,

squeezed under sheets and blankets

with your sickness.

“Darling!” I cry out.

“Do you think aluminum siding

might help.”


Except I don’t.

I just hang up in the guy’s ear.

You’re not eating.

So I doubt you want to give

to the Syrian refugee fund.

Or listen to a spiel on time-share.

The phone is busy with everything but a cure.


Why doesn’t God call?

He could put me straight.

“Sorry son, this is just part of my plan.”

But, in answer to your coughs,

a politician wants your vote.

As a riposte to your dying,

you’ve won some kind of contest.

Sure it’s fake.

But how long has it been

since you won anything?




Dampness burns off,

umber barn boards

advocate their roughness.

Memories are fully present here,

crowding the landscape in all directions,

a garden flaunting variations of green and red,

a rickety farmhouse, unpainted for years,

ghost of a farmer in the field,

sky, softening, blending,

a valley of yellow grasses,

no negative space, nothing to work around,

everything filled with yesterday’s cows,

a bay-mare, a rising stream,

a caterwauling John Deere.


Cobalt and cerulean

poke through rusty ironweed,

work fog into dry,

clear the tree line.

I discover scenes as I would want them,

unconfined by how they are now,

all that is gone from this place

resurrected by sunlight,

the lifting of shadows,

careful to consult me

on the cars in the driveway,

the picket fence,

my mind’s unyielding craft

bearing witness to what I won’t forget.


I dabble in differing ages of the people.

I expose the roofline, the faces in the windows.

I spread seed in all directions,

crops thrive, the harvest is such a joyous time.

Even abandoned, this place never changes.

Even so changed, it is not abandoned.




I go through the door

silently screaming




extra, extra,


and I’m deadly serious.


All night,

wind blew,

a tap dripped,

sins accumulated.


And then Christ appeared,

willing to forgive all.

But such a crowd He attracted.


So I am still in line,

rehearsing my order:




extra, extra.


Only four ahead of me now –

greed, lust, envy and gluttony.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Front Range Review, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Naugatuck River Review, Abyss and Apex and Midwest Quarterly.  






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