John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, South Carolina Review, Gargoyle and Silkworm work upcoming in Big Muddy Review, Cape Rock and Spoon River Poetry Review.
HOW DECEMBER FITS INTO OUR PLANS
It's the season of love.
They all are.
For now, day falls,
is put on hold.
Wood is brought in
from the pile.
Sunset settles on the
bottom of the world. .
Evening's not about
but flesh and blood.
It's time for cords
of oak and maple
and wine dribbling
down the backs of throats.
You pull me out
of the season's narrative
into home and hearth.
You warm my skin,
which in turn,
ensures the rising
of my heart's temperature.
It's what together
is famous for.
DOWN THE LINE
I'm stepping in and out of old railway lines
on a New England track
that hasn't seen a locomotive
in half a century.
Ballast is decayed,
and yet I'm walking down the line
though it goes nowhere
Must be the hobo in me.
Now all I need
is a freight train idling by.
and I can jump aboard,
be Woody Guthrie
for as long as I can stay clear
of the railroad detectives.
I just love these places
that unmoor my imagination.
These woods bring out
the Hawkeye in me.
Are those the footsteps
of the Huron Magua?
The quaint village
has me looking about
for the scandalous lass
with the A burnt into her breast.
But railway lines are something special.
They can never be a destination.
They're all about restlessness,
getting somewhere else.
My life is lived in real time.
Except when tracks are laid down for me.
And in the real world.
Except when it's not.
LONG TIME GONE
This is a room
which dwells on its own emptiness.
Sec how the posters, the banners, sag.
And the wallpaper peels
one palomino at a time.
The bed is made
but more in desperation than hope.
It's not quite a shrine
for an absence is a hard thing to worship.
But you spend more time in here
than in the kitchen or parlor.
You even lie down on the sheets.
The indentation you make
is your only company.
You're a prime example
of doing what you can.
The carpet is vacuumed,
the ceiling brushed free of cobwebs.
But neatness remains
a lifetime away from godliness.
SUNFLOWERS IN FALL
Deserted by the heat, their stalks
atrophy, blooms shrink into a
blackness their gold never saw coming.
They dry up, waste away,
like a good young athlete might do
if left in the game too long
or two lovers kissing and kissing
who forget to eat and dwindle to
mere skeletons of gnat-infested love.
They're like shriveled testimonies
to a long ago vitality, to the
failure of the most brilliant flowers.
They won't even rejuvenate next spring.
I'll have to plant more seed, more brevity
Another young man will come this way
with a great right arm.
Two people will fall in love
out there when the sun shines brightest.
Only death could think to keep on planting
such unsuspecting beauty.
MY SEPTEMBER SONG
Footballs fly and swallows don't.
The lock is on the municipal pool.
My street fills with college-bound traffic.
The leaves have yet to change color
but the buses are in their full bloom of yellow.
Only yesterday, it seems it was May
and the pink petals opened,
cherry-blossomed the neighborhood,
and bees emerged from wherever they hibernate
as no bud went un-buzzed.
The flowers still make the most of the day
but they intuitively know what's next.
The weeds are about to find that
even their relentless grabbing and grasping
must have a stop.
Around four in the afternoon,
the light suddenly seems lost,
aimlessly wanders the trees, the rooftops,
at the mercy of coming darkness.
My stereo plays
the old Kurt Weill-Maxwell Anderson classic,
Of course, the song's September
is the time in a man's life
not a month of the year.
But the difference is as thin as a wren's beak.
And I've not seen one lately.