I remain ever hopeful.
Just looking for a sign that’s all.
Doesn’t have to be a booming voice.
Or a bright light through the window.
It’s not as if disappointment
overdoes the atmosphere.
No deep bass notes on the piano,
no owls at the window
or grim reaper at the door.
The failures happen at such ordinary times
in such ordinary ways.
The flat beer. The lousy gift.
The smile that drifts over my right shoulder
to the guy behind.
So let the better times begin
in as commonplace a way
as a pool ball sunk off a carom,
getting the last outside table
at a restaurant on a beautiful summer’s day.
The rain’s been used so many times
as cliché for the down times,
I’d even hoist my sail to its sudden stopping.
Like I said before, I don’t need a miracle
The keys just need to be where I left them.
And maybe the copy machine doesn’t break down.
Such are the vagaries of the common man.
The horror story that’s really a fairy tale.
The wish list that makes its excuses.
Ode to the Gun
The gun sits
on the dressing table
beside the unmade bed
in a ramshackle motel room
off the interstate.
It’s cold as death,
glints away whatever
sunshine dares to
come its way.
Without a shot fired,
it toughens one guy
and trembles another enough
to make his knees knock together.
On a dressing table,
cold as death,
without a shot fired,
try telling that gun,
it doesn’t kill people.
The True Nature of a Healthy Stroll
A hill shaped like a skull,
a lopsided house
for a family tilted the other way,
a waddling woman
with cavernous eye sockets…
and that’s just the first block.
A faceless man,
an Indian fakir,
a klezmer band
playing “My Way” in Yiddish…
it’s not easy to cross a road around here.
How can I get where I’m going
when an albino armadillo crosses my path,
it’s raining Rolexes
and the fire station’s aflame?
the pavement’s as green as my stomach,
my umbrella won’t open,
the zipper of my pants
cuts like razor blades
and I still have another
hundred yards or so to go.
I never make it.
The odds are not in my favour.
Across the grocery store parking lot,
a plastic bag rolls like tumbleweed.
A grosbeak alights
on a grey wire fence.
Eyeballing the New Estate
Trees line just about everything.
Even the trees are lined with trees.
This is not foliage left unharmed by the bulldozers.
The greenery is imported.
The houses have names like Gardenview or Hilltop.
They’re places in a dream town.
A windless sunny parody of the way we live.
They front a lake studded with swans.
We’re driving on just-paved roads
in a new estate that used to be forest.
Those with money can’t wait to put down a deposit,
to get away from the likes of us.
Once this neighbourhood’s
fully occupied we will not be invited back.
My mother sighs. But without malice.
She’s long since learned to accept her own highway exit.
of sleeping by subtraction,
because the people running
are not us,
and nor are we the chasers.
Same with the gunshots.
We didn’t fire the revolvers.
And they weren’t aimed
in our direction.
So our neighbours scream.
They even thump each other
from time to time.
But only noise spills over
into our sanctuary.
Those growling dogs
can’t bite us.
The yowling black cat
may upturn a trash can lid
but not our good fortune
by strolling across our path.
We’re free and clear of our surrounds.
The huddled homeless woman
doesn’t share our bed.
Nor does the sex offender
in the room above.
Bad things happen to other people.
That’s why we have it so good.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Orbis, Dalhousie Review and the Round Table. Latest books, Leaves On Pages and Memory Outside The Head are available through Amazon.
You can find more of John’s work here on Ink Pantry.