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3 poems by
John Grey
> bio


It's starless
unless you count the skies
of years ago.
The rain is picking up.

I've found some old letters,
pressed into the pockets
of a night-gown in an attic trunk,
yellowed and brittle,
almost melting in my touch.

In attics,
I think of how much space there is,
how life grows into that space,
how it feeds off death to get there.
And then I come to the little
tha's left behind
in all of that expansion,
how it hangs by a thread,
how it's almost nothing,
how it trembles to cling
to even that.
Yet I'm wondering
if I'm strong enough
to read these out aloud,
to hear these echoes.
I unfold the first one.
The rain hits harder
on the roof now.
It is starless
and the first line
can't contain itself for stars.


That's when it occurred to me,
yeah I could be disreputable.
I could beg for drinks
in dingy water-front bars
to the strangled shrieks
of the skin-stitched women
in sailor's tattoos
and the slap of dead fish
against the rotting stumps
of the pier.
I could dig myself a hole
in the darkest corner,
imitate some blighted genius
like Dylan Thomas,
garble brilliant metaphors
to drunken joke-tellers
so they only soared as high
as the cheap beer froth
that clung to my lips
like rancid flesh
to a flopping spine.
I could have it rain,
sleet, hail.
There could be sirens
blitzkrieging the night,
brawls on the sidewalk,
bottles smashed, mirrors exploded.
And why not a flophouse bed
three dark doors down
awaiting my unconsciousness
or maybe a slimy gutter
curved and wide enough
to shanghai my battered body.
I could be in the worst place
romance has to offer
or I could stay here,
listen to you
long into the night,
have you wonder why
I repeatedly wet my lips.


It's like a challenge issued
from the folds, the deep cracks of my skin,
we dare you to know nature.
It's dusk on my face
and a chill warm as beer in my gut,
and a south wind
swelling the treetops,
but what I see off in the distance,
I feel biting close,
nipping at my veins.
I'm a spelunker with a match
in the hairy crevices,
the arm-pits.
I'm burning off the day,
or picking it from skin.
I need to get all of it
so there's just the dusk,
and that chill, and the wind,
and that necessary separation
between man and world.

Eventually, I track down
each of them,
violently interrupt their feasting.
I sit before the fire,
sipping freshly brewed tea,
listening to brush and tent flap
out-rustle each other.
My body is once again virgin territory
for this wild.
My blood, resilient,
is for the dusk, for the chill,
the wind, for where nature
calls a halt to itself
and I begin.




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