Poetry Drawer: Dragonfly: The Contract: The Dating Game is for the Birds: Why There Must be a Garden: A Couple Parking: Manhattan From Brooklyn Heights by John Grey


You’re expert
at skimming the
pond’s dank surface.

Whatever it is
you feed on
I can’t see
so I don’t miss.

You squeeze so much colour
into such a small frame.

And, so instinctive,
your wings beat
without bothering your brain.


On an overhead wire,
a flock of crows
pauses between
roadkill feasts.

There’s a contract
between these black birds
and the speeding vehicles below.

It’s all there
in strips of white-lined asphalt.

Cars and trucks
don’t brake for anything.

Squirrels, raccoons, possums,
sign their names in blood.

No worry where
the crows’ next meal is coming from.
So many fast cars.
So few smart animals.


I’ll be an eagle for a while, soaring
on the thermals, ready to dive down
and grab the mousey one in my talons.
No, I’ll be the vulture, feasting on
the dead ones, or preferably,
the ones that just think they’re dead.
I tried being a cute bird, a chickadee
with an appealing song but
who wants to be fed seed
out of a gentle palm
or fly away at the first sign of movement.
So bird of prey it is,
a hawk because it’s what they’re used to,
a condor because they’re rare,
an owl because the hunting’s better at night.
I’ve tried being a parrot.
But “I love you” never sounds sincere
when someone has to teach it to me.


Without a garden,
there are no peonies
garlanding my back doorstep,
no deep fragrance
to set off a nostril swoon,
no soft white petals
for touch to reassert itself
in gentleness,
no spritely stem
to feed off earth and sky,
yet recognize in me
a seeding, watering,
fertilizing parent.
Without a garden,
the beauty is all wild.
And, as much as I love
wild beauty,
(and you know who you are)
I am always up for
a modicum of taming.


Parked high on Bishop Hill,
we look down more than at each other.
for we’re confused as to what we’re doing together
but the sights are ever-present, unimpaired.

There seems no reason
why light should make a downtown beautiful,
turn its suburbs into stars,
its traffic to passing comets.

We’ve seen it all in daytime,
unlovely, nondescript.
And yet, at night, it takes on the chimera
we had hoped for in each other.

Better to be fooled by the eye
than the heart I suppose.
As lovers, we make little progress.
But as witnesses, we prosper.


I watch, the city dazzle from afar.
No warriors. Only lights.
No one in a panic.
No loud deafening noises.
Just shapes.
A work of modern art
crossed with an ancient fresco.
Nobody trying to get the better of another.
No politicians. No cops.
No laws either
except for those of architecture
and, in the city’s upper strata,
No slaves to the clock.
Or savage tongues.
Or wealth. Or poverty.
No one ignoring somebody
who needs them.
No subway smoke.
No theatre crowds.
No priests either.
Everything’s celestial
without their help.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in New World Writing, North Dakota Quarterly and Lost Pilots. Latest books, ”Between Two Fires”, “Covert” and “Memory Outside The Head” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in California Quarterly, Seventh Quarry, La Presa and Doubly Mad.

You can find more of John’s work here on Ink Pantry.

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