John Grey

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

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