Three Poems by John Grey

sc june 18


Today, any day, we would rather be dead.
No one can answer the question –
“What’s living anyhow?”
The world’s response is this place
where we can safely
bore ourselves to sleep.

Our ambition is to be honest with ourselves.
We really would rather be dead.
But we’re too lazy to misappropriate
all this semi-precious blood.
So we moved into the neighborhood
just to put you in the mood.
And yes, for your information,
we can talk…
that way you won’t confuse us with the cemetery.


the serene
where clouds underpart
and suddenly
all doors are open
from hard rock to angel wings

the ecstasy
of the spoken road
the ringing handbell
the silver sheen
of the floating seraphs –

but then there’s the trespasser
power and money
anything to sully the golden beam
like diamond doorknobs
platinum locks and chains
pistols and truncheons

drained of music
all urgency
all the time
on the line

no wonder
I can’t get through


The bearded lady’s chin growth,
the alligator man’s scaly skin,
the geek’s live chicken appetite,
the Siamese twins,
the guy with the pointed head –

they’d long passed into history
by the time
I attended my first carnival.

Cotton candy on a stick
was the closest I ever got
to a freak show.

It tasted sweet enough
but I could believe it
with my own eyes.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Evening Street Review and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.

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