Live Encounters Poetry & Writing February 2024.
Dear Joanna, poems by John Grey.
I know you can’t hurt me
for my sake,
emerge from the shadows,
let me delight in your face
hear your voice,
soft and compelling.
No more of these lipless whispers.
No more fluttering fractured
gleams of light
or curtain rustle
or creak of floorboard.
And please, dispense with
that insistent imperceptible spirit..
the inexplicable sense
that I am not alone
when all else says otherwise.
I know you can’t hurt me
just this once,
Romantic life, night one
It was the most lackluster kiss
that a boy on a doorstep ever delivered.
But as she lay in bed,
she figured she loved the guy anyhow.
Their lips met, didn’t they?
And his hands wrapped around her waist,
if only briefly.
But she was only fifteen.
She relieved the scenes leading up to it.
They were as awkward as the final moment.
And she remembered the conversation.
“Dumb, stupid” she muttered in half-sleep.
If they’d been lines in a script,
the film would have never been made.
For her though, it was something to work on.
Like the touch of his thigh against hers
in the movie house.
Or the brief interchange of fingers.
Or the sight of his tongue
as he licked ketchup from his chin
in the burger joint
Or the ride home in the cab.
And the talk, though surely
the smallest on record,
was, at least, between the two of them.
And then the kiss.. .her kiss…
no other mouth nudged her away
and planted itself in the general area of his.
That’s where it began.
And where it ended for that particular boy.
Though that night, she loved him.
After that, she was happy just to love.
Snow falls where it will
Flakes adorn headstones,
soft snow on death,
clouds blocking light, canyons of wind
blowing gruff man winter through haughty streets
but sincere, self-effacing, on crosses and angels.
It’s not down to us, citified, locked in our houses,
cursing weather, inconsolable,
in the jaws of this bleak white monster
that devours us all,
but is gentle and accessible to stone gray fences,
lowing willows, yesterday’s roses.
A man in coat and wool cap bends over
the grave of his wife, further softened by dampness,
remembers the good in such flurries
back in the 50’s and 60’s,
now insular but not quite alone,
a lyrical ice-tear in his eye,
a chill beating his breast proud.
In his sorrow, in his memory,
the old bitter brute looks after him well.
In the houses built since the 80’s,
the blind stare out,
the featureless rise up.
© John Grey
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in New World Writing, California Quarterly and Lost Pilots. Latest books, ”Between Two Fires”, “Covert” and “Memory Outside The Head” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Isotrope Literary Journal, Seventh Quarry, La Presa and Doubly Mad.