poems by John Grey

A Dismal Place


No joy in the world

merely cattle nibbling lush grass

sprouting from tilted tombstones

in an old historic graveyard.


And three old men on the one wooden bench,

each with hands crossed over chest,

silent as stone angels,

waiting for the ground beneath to claim them.


And faded names and dates.

Crosses like moss-stained teeth.

Nothing to love. No one to remember.


The fence is down and

dumb animals have found their way here.

That’s all you need to know.




Ode To The Radiators


The radiators

are the oldest things in the house,

as old as the house itself in fact.

There’s been more than one boiler

that’s pumped heat into the myriad pipes.

But the same gray ribs of metal

have been there to receive it, pass it on.


On cold mornings, I gravitate

to the one under the bedroom window,

not the chilly arms of other people.

A hand near touching

hustles blood into the nearest vein,

sends it racing to my body’s farthest outposts.


Sure they cough and rattle

like old soldiers out on parade.

And their valves hiss

worse than a punctured truck tire.

But they’re almost family members.

Like the ones who live here,

if they don’t make noise,

no one knows they’re there.


I admire their patience through summer,

their readiness as fall grows colder by the day,

the fight that they take right to winter,

and their great care

when shutting down in Spring –

never too early, never too late.

Radiators deserve their own poem.

They have, if not beauty,

history on their side.


In the distance,

the microwave pings,

the refrigerator hums.

But I am not listening.




Her Mouth


In the downpour of her face,

her mouth is a puddle.


If her eyes are on fire,

the mouth opens wide

and she shoves more wood

down the gullet.


Her ears are small

but they can flap like wings.

That’s when her mouth

makes loud noises like a jet.


Whatever seeds her cheeks

grows something pinkish brown.

Her mouth harvests as needed.


When her nose is swatting flies,

her mouth sends her tongue out

to dispose of the bodies.


When her hair lights up

like a halo,

she pops a bulb into her mouth,

and it too shines.




My Presence


Light and air in abundance,

earth everywhere,

and yet it’s the body

that feels way too much.


Rich land,

generous weather,

but wasted on the need

to walk about

or even sit and think.


I’m like everyone else

on this planet,

a lifetime of taking,

a death that gives back so little.


I sometimes ask myself,

why was I born.


There is no answer.

The world is saving itself.

for a better question.

poems by John Grey

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