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ADELAIDE Independent Quarterly Literary Magazine / Revista Literária Independente Trimestral, New York / Lisboa, Online Edition  

 




 

 



 

 

 

 

THE SURRENDER OF WILL
By John Grey

 

 

 

 

THAT OLD EYE FOR AN EYE

I can't sleep, am drenched in the sweat of a man's last hours.
I'm alone, despite my wife beside me.
My mind is hangman and social worker, priest and warrior.
I press my head into the pillow. My thoughts know where I am.
They want me behind the glass panel with all the other fidgety witnesses.
Do I want to see the bastard fried - or would I rather lead the killer
away from the chair with a kindly hand,
sit him down for wine and understanding?
The folks outside the jail have dissipated, along with their placards.
The warden's home in bed. So is the one who pulled the switch.
How do their conflicted thoughts work for them, I wonder.
The execution went as planned.
Hey if someone killed the devil than that's okay with me.
Struggling to forgive the asshole 1 was merely assuaging my soul.
I mean nothing by it.
I'm with the vigilantes. No, wait a minute,
I don't believe in an eye for an eye.
It is midnight, a day beyond that long awaited execution
in a faraway Texas prison.
Killer in the chair - not exactly a magnet for sympathy.
And I'm in a deal with those bolts of juice.
But shouldn't I learn to be kind to the undeserving.
Then the hour repeats an old argument -
kill the beast and the dead go free.
But deep in my head,
the juiced guy screams for the rest of us.
The morning newspapers said that
a Mrs. Henry now feels something called closure.
That's also like execution. Only you get to live.

 

 

 

 

THE BIG SECRET

We still have faith in the secrecy between us,
this counterweight to stresses.
It’s the one facet of the unknowable
that we truly know.

Suburbs don’t do well with ambiguities
but what we have now is this unlikely fortress
whose appeal is in looking like every other
while being something else entirely.

Yes, I sometimes wish we could go back in time,
relive some of the way to here
but, even if what we have dissolves now,
it still would exist in recesses only we know of.

This privacy was designed to include us and no other.
It is only accessible from the inside.
Our hearts, our minds, are far too elusive.
Only our skin is available for questioning.

 

 

 

 

THE SURRENDER OF WILL                                          

What began as a premonition of disaster
is now a giant fissure in your willpower.
You’re as fragile as a flake of paint.
And about to do something that could rob you
of any semblance of your life thereafter.
Like the blink of an eye
can destroy all you have imagined,
a word or two you might have said
became the one thing you’re hapless at:  a relationship.
You’ve always been wary of what could affect you
for the rest of your life.
And now, unwittingly or not,
you’ve established a prototype
every day for years.

So, as quickly as you can,
you try to run from the slightest twitch of the mouth.
But you’re frozen to the spot.
The white flag’s about to make its appearance.
Cowardice – it’s what you’ll be remembered for.
You’ve already convinced yourself
of every horrible thing in a woman’s armory
and how they could debilitate you.
Then, after much thought,
you realize that living without her is no option either.

You sit by the window, staring into your doubts.
If you ponder the situation long enough,
you always come up with ‘maybe.’
Love is not something you can feel a master of.
And she is not someone to take control over.
You know that there are moments with women
that you can never have back.
They add up to permanence.
That’s what you reckon is good for you
but it’s not clear that that is what you want.

So far, you’ve managed your uncertainty
with the odd slick peripheral glance,
and a slight shudder at the first sign
of what it is about her that terrifies you.
You find yourself smiling when you don’t mean it.
And speaking softly even when discussing the weather.
You shouldn’t be doing that.
Who knows where it can lead.

There’s even a red stain on your neck
when some lipstick was squashed.
It’s evidence. It’s right in the mirror
where you can see it plain.
It’s not the sort of thing you wish to be associated with
and yet…despite being befuddled,
you find you can go on.
You’re doing what’s expected of you.
You’re being considerate of all things.
What once would have been a hammer pounding nail
is now opening a car door for her.
You’re completely out of who you thought you were.
You dread the situation.
So why do you want it so much?
You’d hate for it to define you.
So what’s with all this undoubted pride
when the two of you are seen together?
The two of you are hand in hand.
Your fingers can handle it
but you’ve still doubts about the rest of you.

 

 

 

 

About the Author:

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Schuylkill Valley Journal, Cape Rock and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Poem and Spoon River Poetry Review.  

 

 




 




 

 

 

     
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