John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Perceptions and the anthology, No Achilles with work upcoming in Big Muddy Review, Gargoyle, Coal City Review and Nebo
LITTLE JOHNNY'S GOT THE BLUES
It's almost midnight.
It's quiet out
but for an oak branch
that taps upon his bedroom window.
From the small radio
plugged to his ear,
a disc jockey, three states away,
spins old southern blues records,
rough and raw, whiskey-stained,
to a white kid in the upper Midwest.
His father's playing poker with his buddies.
His mother's drunk on the couch.
Theirs is a strung out kind of blues.
Not three chords and a growl.
More red faces and raised voices.
Mississippi John Hurt is wailing
"Spike Driver Blues."
In the pain of that leather throat,
a railroad's being built
on the backs of poor black men.
That sounds nothing like
the ache from a belt across the legs...
until, by the second verse, it does.
Nightfall, I'm back
from a jaunt through
the land of the grizzly.
woods have turned black,
mountains melted into sky.
I made noise the whole way
so the bears knew that I was coming.
I saw one in the distance,
drinking at a pond.
I did not go in that direction.
As much as I love nature,
I'm aware that, being human
bestows on me a mental superiority
but not a physical one.
Should one of those great creatures
decide to take me on,
what chance has acuity
against rapacious claws, sharp teeth.
I'm back at my den
turn on all lights,
report to the kitchen
where with a cut of meat,
a slice of bread,
locked doors and windows,
I'm returned temporarily
to the top of the food chain.