John Grey – 2 poems



Pain never goes away.

It settles down

on the darkest places

where it can fester

and get uglier.


In a year’s time,

it wriggles back

into the flesh and bones,

refreshed, empowered.


Your lungs have

barely recovered

and now, once again,

soft sleep currents

must give way to harsh

rapids of waking

at dark hours.


People say,

don’t be discouraged. 

After a while,

they get discouraged

saying it.





As darkness oozes into swamp,

their similarities busy with mosquitoes.

I’ve misjudged the time.

Solid earth is farther than the stars.

With every insect bite,

my arms feel like human sacrifice.


Hands sweated to oar,

I row through reed

and mangrove,

floating islands,

from isolated backwater

toward the distant light.


The sludge below

assures the feel

of suspended animation.

I’m moving

but not enough to shake

the drip of heat,

snakes cozying up to boat,

the grunt of frog and alligator.


Home is my destination.

These waters define home differently.



John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Penumbra, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, “Leaves On Pages” and “Memory Outside The Head” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Lana Turner and International Poetry Review.


John Grey – 2 poems



My lover sings, picks hay from her sweater.

She has been to the barn to gather eggs.

It’s overcast but she doesn’t bother

with ordinary electricity.

Instead, she lights a scented candle,

watches the wax drip,

sates the kitchen with sweet maple.


She is a shoebox filled with moments like this.

A collection of tintypes,

each in the act of doing something different from the others.


She could pick roses,

toss the petals across the bed.

Or massage the knots out of my back.

Or play her flute,

those light, airy notes

that link up all the times

that we have spent together.


Of course, there are always eggs to gather.

But she might come back inside whistling.

Or reciting the poems of Burns.


This morning, she’s breaking the eggs

on the side of the fry pan,

humming along as the yolk

flows down the sizzling sides.


From the organic vessel,

to the melody, the steam,

the oozing color,

she’s got everything covered.


There’s not a moment without her

that can stand up to a moment with her.






The dog has chewed your favorite shoe

to pieces.

The factory’s shutting down.

Half the town is out of work.


That damn mutt.

Still, that’s what you get for leaving him

alone in the house all day.

And losing your job…

more fault at your door.

You want ten times what

the company can pay some kid in Asia.


But at least

you’ll be home all day now.

You can watch the dog,

keep your good stuff

out of his teeth.


But what about that other dog.

The giant dog.

The dog with a head the size of a wrecking ball,

claws as big and sharp as bulldozer blades.


There’s nothing he can’t get

his jaw around.

He can chew up industry.

And he can spit out the likes of you.




John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in
That, Dunes Review, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work
upcoming in Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Thin Air, Dalhousie
Review and failbetter.


John Grey – 1 poem



He doesn’t rest or sleep,

merely occupies that hospital bed.

Same with his brain, his body.

They’re just death’s waiting rooms.


Our bewilderment is contagious.

Is this really our father?

Conversations with dad lately

have been like twisting and turning the radio dial

and merely cranking up the static.

Our mother says he’s been reliving his childhood.

And he’s taken to singing nursery rhymes.

“Ding! Dong! Dell!”  is not what we came to hear.


Sadly, she’s not much better.

But she knows our names at least,

even if, from time to time,

she connects them to the wrong face.

But she insists, in heaven, it will be different.

They’ll be together, in their prime,

and remembering every last detail.

So, to her, he’s a date in the future.

To we kids, he’s a presence,

so like him and yet so unalike,

but enough of him still alive

to block our better memories from kicking in.


And he makes me conscious of my own vulnerability,

how life was not designed to hold together

the way I wish it to.

Not in the long term, at least.

And he’s at the very end of that long time,

one ruinous breath, one discredited heartbeat away

from the obituaries.

His dying is ruining it for the living.

The more he forgets, the more we don’t want to know.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Midwest Quarterly, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in South Florida Poetry Journal, Hawaii Review and Roanoke Review.


Poetry Promotional

Two Johns, two Glenns and Victoria…a feast of five poets

Bindweed Anthology 2018: Devil’s Guts comes to a close with a Boxing Day Feast of five poets. Look out for the Bindweed Anthology 2018: Devil’s Guts print anthology coming soon in 2019!


John Riley

John Grey

Glenn Hubbard

Glenn Ingersoll

Victoria Doerper

Happy New Year!


John Grey – 1 poem




Does it involve anyone else I wonder

or just shadows

and pizza eaten cold

on a Monday morning.

And where do I live?

Do I even bother with a house

in the suburbs

or does a small city apartment do?


Is there a bed in my story

equally as comfortable as this one?

And is it comforting besides?


How many more books do I read?

How many less plays do I see?

And what of the movies?

Is every film a different partner

in the seat beside me?

Or is it empty?

And is it that emptiness

that accompanies me home?


So many demons to assuage.

So many heartbeats to

toss like confetti

into the happiness of others.

So much trudging through city parks

for no reason

or working a second job

because the first’s not dull enough.


So how cold do I get in winter?

How much sorrow for myself

can I squeeze into one lifetime?

The history is out there.

I’m just glad I’m writing it,

not living it.




John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Evening Street Review and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Harpur Palate, Poetry East and Visions International.