John Grey

four poems

Guy On His Way

I am sorry but I will be delayed.
Begin without me.

Kiss yourself.
Shake your own hand.
Talk to the wall.

It’s heavy traffic
or could be I overslept.

So undress yourself.
Fill in the figures
to the best of your ability.
Choose the movie.

Maybe I’m not coming
at all.
Did we even plan
to get together?

Eat alone.
Tell jokes to no one.
Sleep with yourself.

I’ll make it up to you someday.
But if someday I’m not there,
begin the making up
without me.


The first pulled handle
of the slot machine season.
Wheels spin my luck in life.
A single cherry.
Kachung! Kachung!

The air is smoky yellow,
carpet’s as blue as the sky
I may not see for days.
The woman with the drink tray
is gold-lined, leggy.
The excited fat guy at the next stool
is counting quarters like they’re doubloons.
I haven’t the heart to tell him
he’d get richer flipping burgers.

The second pulled handle.
Nothing this time.
Two blue hairs squabble over
whose machine is whose.
Three rows of slots away,
a light gleams red.
I hear an avalanche of coins.

Third pulled handle, then the fourth,
then the fifth, and so on.
Sometimes Kachung! Kachung!
Mostly nothing but mismatched fruit
and one fat 7.
But I’m ever the optimist,
otherwise why are their handles.
And something keeps telling me,
someday you’ll hit the jackpot.
Another cherry.
Kachung! Kachung!
That’s what’s telling me.

What I Leave Behind

It’s not just my fingerprints
I leave everywhere these days
but my DNA.
A hundred years from now
when family have long forgotten me,
some expert will pick up my trail.
He didn’t work, he didn’t love,
he didn’t write a damn thing,
but he sure left behind
a ton of evidence.
Okay, so maybe they won’t bother.
They’ll be too busy solving crimes,
will probably bypass me
to get at Jack the Ripper.
He was really… take your pick:
queen’s surgeon, German butcher,
crazy artist, Russian seaman.
All these ways of identifying me
and no one will take up my case.
So forget the future, forget the fingerprints,
forget the DNA.
Whatever the signs,
either I find them or no one will.
Unless, of course, I commit a crime.
Is self obsession a crime, I wonder.

What Sets Me Apart

More than anything
it’s the failure of stone to be rivers,
ear wax to be brain food.
Bulbs won’t invent,
Machinery just lies there.
And there is more air in the world than energy,
more dirt than travel.
I write with a pen
that is the exact opposite
of everything that it’s not
on paper that is not now,
nor ever will be, the planet.
I kiss lips instead of jet planes,
visit grave sites in lieu of
the insides of a cell.
I’ve lost my place in the book
where the great people live,
where ink is blood,
and plot explodes like a volcano.
Day after day, I look in the mirror
where giants have been reported
but always I’m the one comes to the glass.

One Response

  1. Just a lovely, sad ending

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