poems by John Grey



End of the work day, sun setting,

park my car by the stream,


walk along the banks, stop to watch

minnows gather in the stillness.


On the other side, a woodchuck

gets in the last few mouthfuls of grass


before shadows nudge him back to his den.

Same with the rabbits that nibble


in the safety of near-invisibility.

The sky is shedding the last of the blue.


Birds hunker down in nests or roosts.

The darkness encourages a bat or two.


A firefly launches its brief but brilliant

appeal to the opposite sex.


End of my work day, beginning of so

many others. A racoon. A fox.


A couple of teenagers, arm in arm,

strolling in my direction.


I hold a place for them

until they reach where I am standing.




Watching the loggerheads


This April night, the tiny loggerheads

are on the move from nest to ocean.

I watch with flashlight from the rocks above

as so many scramble through sea-grass and sand,


cruelly exposed to predators like gulls

and the owls of the salt marsh, who dive and grab

the hatchlings, devour them brutally, quickly,

so they can get on with pillaging some more.


The birds squawk with unholy pleasure,

for the pickings are splendid, numerous,

enough to feed themselves and family,

gorge themselves in case of famine ahead.


Most turtles do not survive this precarious marathon.

Only the lucky few waddle into foam, float and flap

their flippers, disappear into the belly of the waves

and more danger from big and hungry fish.


So why am I here, witness to kill after kill,

taking the loggerhead’s side but in awe of their killers?

It’s painful to see persistence go so cruelly unrewarded,

but I can’t equate survival with murder.


Enough turtles will defy long odds, return in adulthood

to ply the sand with thousands more eggs.

It may look like a bloody, violent shooting gallery.

But even the targets get a prize at the end.




He was no good loss


Your ex-husband was a thief

you tell me

though the stuff the cops found

stashed under some sheets

in the back of your trailer

was hardly an embarrassment of riches –

at least, he didn’t involve you,

signed a statement proclaiming

you knew nothing of the robbery –

but he did involve you –

you were now the wife

of a convicted felon –

he didn’t serve time for what he did

having no prior record

or, at least, never having been caught before,

so you served time for him,

working two waitress jobs to get by

because nobody would hire him –

the highlight of your day

was changing from your grubby pink diner outfit

to the all-demure-black of the Italian restaurant –

his time was spent drinking and watching TV –

and then he left you

because some fool woman

was dumb enough to be impressed by

flabby muscles and tasteless tattoos –

and you cried, you admit,

embarrassed for being upset at losing

what anyone in their right mind

would be ecstatic to be rid of  –

that’s what comes of your life

being made of other people,

is your slant on it –

they leave and you’re

suddenly adrift, depleted –

yes, he was a thief

even when he wasn’t stealing.

poems by John Grey

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