John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Transcend, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty with work upcoming in Blueline, Hawaii Pacific Review and Clade Song.


The kookaburra
I recall from my early teenage years,
perched on a phone pole
outside my bedroom window,
opening his beak wide
and laughing the day awake.
I peered out the window
and there was the girl next door
already out in her yard,
showing off her legs in short shorts
and her brown arms with a t-shirt.
The flowers of spring
vaporized the air with perfumes
from the sweet to the sickly.
So I was both delighted
and disillusioned
at what passed for female attractiveness
in my neighborhood.
The kookaburra dropped
down to our white wooden fence,
continued its loud cry.
Maybe it was a male
calling out for companionship
of the opposite sex.
The girl smiled at the raucous bird.
She then looked up at my window,
smiled my face into a brief shade of redness.
The bird flew off.
I retreated.
She continued to prance 
around her yard,
singing one of the latest pop songs,
a song I truly hated.
It was about a woman
pining for her man.
As with the kookaburra,
her song would have to wait.


Francine knew no embarrassment,
dressed up to her intentions,
abhorred modesty,
embraced a good time
like a she-bear smothering an intruder.
Her life-style had no borders,
could be wild or even wilder,
stubborn and surreal,
and no hour was her marker.
Francine couldn’t be disguised
or cajoled into doing something
she didn’t want to do
or made to feel guilty.
She took the feelings of people,
bit and swallowed them up,
leaving only the bones
to glow on disco-ball drenched
dancefloors, neon sidewalks,
or moon-soaked fields.
Her victims would never take
their next breath as an answer.


She leapt from the bridge.
More than just a jump.
Or a fall.
Somewhere, in her mind,
she was in it for style points.
That’s why the splash
was such a disappointment.
It was loud,
as brassy as exploding water can get.
She was hoping for a clean entry.
No one saw it.
But the noise caught the attention
of the usual few
strolling along the river bank.
But, by that time,
the surface had reclaimed its composure,
was flat and calm.
So they couldn’t judge
the way she intended.
But they judged all right…
from many a vantage point
higher than that bridge.

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