John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Soundings East, Dalhousie Review and Connecticut River Review with work upcoming in West Trade Review, Willard and Maple and the MacGuffin.
DEAR READER REGARDING MRS LACEY
She drinks her tea to the sound of traffic and wind outside her third-floor apartment. A photograph of a dead husband keeps her company. A check from the government pays her rent, her food bill, little else. She listens to the radio, watches television, meets up with an old friend once a month. She’s not unhappy with her life. That’s your job.
THE DROWNED MAN
Crisscross of tides on a remote shore lumps a body on the sand. Currents and creatures, caverns and reefs, who knows what’s out there? The one who can tell us is sprawled on the shore, salty and silent. Rescue arrives, experts on anatomy but not oceans. And then there’s the cops, can’t put handcuffs around the depths, never seen anything so lawless. No identity on the dead guy, but the killer’s known, something called the Atlantic. The victim’s hauled away/ The land can only watch. It can’t save him.
THE FIRST WEEK AFTER THE FATHER LEAVES
Through the experience of the past week we have all had a taste of what it’s like to be one of the Henderson Kids. Their parents separated when they were the same age as us. They went from a disciplined family environment to something feral and unhinged, an ideal to which they pledged allegiance to a disbelief in anything and everything that any adult said. So we all expected to be Hendersons. Caught shoplifting. Failing grades at school. Pregnant at sixteen. Our mother said we all needed to be strong. That it would not be easy but we mustn’t feel unloved, not even by the man living on the other side of town with a busty waitress. We were never in trouble with the law, we kept up our grades, and none of us got pregnant. So we failed in our belief that kids are essentially rudderless and need to be gripped by a firm hand at all times. We even failed the Hendersons in a way