John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Washington Square Review and Floyd County Moonshine. Latest books, “Covert” “Memory Outside The Head” and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in the McNeese Review, Santa Fe Literary Review and Open Ceilings.


At dusk,
deer emerge from the forest.
They nibble on the tenderest shoots,
with one eye out for danger.

These are lives.
Just as we are lives.
They’re mother, father, 
children, aunts, uncles, cousins.

But, as humans,
they’d be too skittish,
too wary.

As deer,
they survive.


It is winter in the northeast
but summer in the homeland.
Ships enter the harbors slowly,
wary of the ice.
Men in long coats cling to the decks.
Ten thousand miles way,
Gold Coast beauties gild.

The world turns on such differences.
The last fish salvaged from lengthening dark.
The first signs of tan on willing skin.

It's night in the northeast but daytime in the homeland.

Beacons twinkle here,
from frozen home to empty office —
a brilliant bravado.
The sun is in ascendance there.
No other gleam necessary.

I live in the north east.
But the homeland's always the homeland.
How else could a shiver warm,
a blindness see clear?


Coming home now,
I will always be too late.

And yet I’m
striding across the meadow,
hopped up on possibility,
as if family have lived far beyond
their allotted years.

My tongue dwells on tea
and buttered pikelets.
The thought closes around me
and yet, sadly, it gathers in the loss.

What I see before me 
is the old house occupied by strangers.
So why do I drag myself through the pain
of what cannot possibly be?

Time swallows up 
the fishing rod, the firework flame,
the bush trails, the hat a half-size too big.
What it leaves behind is such a hollow place
with not even a solitary high-top tennis shoe.

How long before I turn on my heels,
go where the sunlight leads me.
Better to be doing something
than succumb to long, disparate thoughts.

Take a step, and another,
back across that same meadow,
deliberately in the present,
telling myself that my boyhood home
will always be somewhere…
just not where it is.

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