Three Poems

By John Grey

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on the steps of the bar,

eating peanuts from a brown bag,

tossing the shells onto the sidewalk

Friday, your payday,

in rumpled gray, red uniform,

school satchel on my back,

some people stop to stare,

sum up my story in an instant

and you’re inside,

on your fifth beer, your tenth joke,

your twentieth glance up at the

painted naked lady,

wondering why all women didn’t look like that,

especially the ones you marry

maybe, when you’re done,

you’ll be sober enough to drive,

or to order pizza

or to remember my name

at least

one time you got so drunk

you passed out on the counter

I walked home,

went to bed hungry,

was nobody.




Skis and feet dangle from the chair lift

and there’s no such thing as danger.

We are picked up by this metal hand,

like a kind giant

who lifts us into the High Traverse.

Cranked up that mountainside,

we must look as little like skiers

the connection to zooming down the mountain

as flimsy as riding the bus home

has to do with eating

or the Saturday afternoon football game

with that night’s sex.

There is nothing in our cloudy conversation

about skidding on a hard-packed surface,

spinning like a dervish,

flying out of control

at the whim of vicious angles,

premeditated slopes.

And there sure isn’t a trace

in our chuckling eyes

of that black humor of a scrub pine,

the one that jumps up in the middle of the trail.

I’m unwittingly carving at blinding speed.

Nothing in a quick smooch

to suggest my leg slammed into my groin,

my hip snapped like one of that tree’s twigs,

my busted body swept away

like a piece of alpine driftwood

down a thousand more feet,

until I finally catch up

with my hammering heart

in a mound of fresh snow

stashed inside a stand of trees.

Swinging back and forth

in the frigid air,

breath occasionally pausing

to trap the beauty,

there’s nothing more to life

than a pinch of laughter,

a warm icy kiss,

a future that lulls us  into thinking

it’s forgotten us again.




We hiked up the hill

for the flower, rare, scattered,

but seeable, white amid green landscape –

farm smells rose up from the valley,

seeped through the bank of trees  –

and we kept right on picking,

one bloom at the base of the rock,

another at the entrance to the rabbit warren –

for five miles, we had these bouquets in our head

and now they mustered in our fingers,

thin stems, and petals the color of a wedding dress –

and when we were done, I gave her mine,

she gave me hers, that these gifts would ever die

was never once imagined.

A most austere, beleaguered farm –

the cattle sensed it,

their mission to only ever look down,

at clumps of grass, at their own sloppy brown patties.

And the crops, no mind of their own,

were merely servants of the weather-

her mother took the flowers we picked,

buried them in a vase –

her father could care less for flowers-

he cut firewood,

any warmth was accidental.

John Grey