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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing February 2023
No more neighbors, poems by John Grey.
No more neighbors
Her next door neighbors
are loading up a moving van.
They’ve sold the house.
They’re going elsewhere.
After all these years,
dwelling side by side,
she hardly knows them
but, just being there,
they were a comfort,
like an old shawl,
and now that warmth
is being taken away from her.
She lives alone
but now considers the possibility,
the assuredness in fact,
The dark will be so much darker.
Her home, her yard,
no matter the time of day,
will attract the shadows
more than they do the light.
She listens to the mayhem
of heavy furniture
being lugged from door to truck,
boxes and boxes following in the wake.
The neighbors look weary but happy with the change.
She doesn’t remember what change feels like.
She stands out on her porch
but the neighbors don’t seem to notice her.
A moth flutters about the bulb above her.
That insect could be it as far as company goes.
She can’t remember if the woman’s name
is Dawn or Diane.
Goodbye somebody, she says under her breath.
A week in Puerto Rico
The English is intermittent and often incoherent.
Clothes are loud but then so is the sun.
No drink is served without a complementing umbrella.
Hard to believe that it’s January somewhere,
that snow is falling, and houses look like frozen bunkers.
The ocean here has no concept of seasons.
Nor do the torches that flash on after dark,
light the path between drunkenness, bonhomie and sleep.
Come morning, I walk the beach, my surprising energy
sprinkled with salt, the sand in my sandals coming and going,
breeze off the waters, as much a remedy
as the cherry-topped Pina Colada at dusk.
I’m only here a week and yet I feel like some exile writer,
a less-macho Hemingway inspired to put it all
down on paper but doing no such thing.
Ideas are born in hibiscus and palm trees,
lift off on the wings of gulls and terns,
gestate in the bulbous jaws of pelicans,
and the constant rolling waves,
the foam that inhabits my naked toes.
But, without cabin fever, they go no further.
Without the January in my future,
the pleasurable lazy present would be stillborn.
The town made no secret
of who had money
and who did not.
Houses either blared their wealth
or hid behind the shame of poverty.
Walking the streets
was like breaking into bank accounts.
Red or black,
made no difference with the rich.
It was the number of commas that staggered.
The poor nudged a little in debt,
a little to the good,
but never too far from zero.
It was an America
where some people
lorded it over the rest of us
with the size of their yards,
the fancy gates,
the Mexican landscapers,
the expensive cars in the driveway.
They reveled in the smug grin
of having made it
or, at least, being born into
I tried to be jealous
but couldn’t work up enough greenness.
Besides, I owned 200 books.
© John Grey
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, “Leaves On Pages” “Memory Outside The Head” and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Ellipsis, Blueline and International Poetry Review.