John Grey – The Woman In The Bar

John Grey LEP&W Sept-Oct V1 2022

Download PDF Here Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume One Sept-October 2022. 

The Woman In The Bar, poems by John Grey.

The Woman In The Bar

She knows it happened
but, after all these years,
and all these drinks,
she can’t remember who
was responsible:
a father, an uncle,
maybe a friend of one
or the other.

Her memory hasn’t been
the same since it
wasn’t the same
the last time
and the bar-tender
only takes her orders
to shut her up
but she yaps about it anyhow.

The story keeps changing.
The details won’t hang together.
But the way her face comes apart
and her eyes bulge like a fish’s
keeps the truth on a very tight rein.
On and on she rants.
She has no other take to tell.

When the other patrons
are through being annoyed,
they start to feel sorry for her.
Some for the right reasons.
Some for the wrong.
It’s not pity she’s looking for.
But it always comes looking for her.


Graduates with a BA in creative writing,
has no idea where it leads him,
not to a clear path ahead that’s for sure,
his father suggests the army,
his mother still tells him to pick up his clothes.

And he also graduates with full honors
in homosexuality, spent time naked with a fellow student –
what would the army think of that?
he’s already admitted as much to his parents,
stone faces paid about as much attention to him
as horses chewing grass.

Army, no way. Maybe advertising.
And there’s still that great American novel,
surely welcoming to the gay spirit.
His father’s disgusted.
His mother says his room’s a mess.
He tells them many of the songs they love
were written by Jewish gay guys.
It doesn’t help. No one in the room is Jewish.

Graduates with nothing much more
than he began with –
his father’s crushing disappointment.
his mother’s fetish for absolute neatness.
If there’s a career out there
awaiting someone as educated as he
then it’s not making itself known.

Life goes on pretty much as expected.
There’s no army in his future,
no cleanliness either.
He’s old enough to drink now
so he can put away the fake ID.
And he can hang at the gay bar,
maybe meet somebody with
a BA in creative literature.
They can get drunk together,
maybe get laid.
It could feel like an army.
It could be neater than he imagines.
Not a vocation though.
At best, more graduation.

© John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Poetry Salzburg Review and Ellipsis. Latest books, “Covert” “Memory Outside The Head” and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Washington Square Review and Red Weather.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.