by John Grey


In one battle
he saw a soldier
ripped to pieces
by barbed wire and shell,
and the guy pleaded with Uncle Ray
to put him out of his misery.

And he was in a club in Saigon
where a band was playing Latin music
and that combo was really fantastic
but only the whores were dancing.


They were as bankrupt economically
as that so-called preacher on TV was morally
except he didn’t have to leave his fancy mansion
and their modest cottage couldn’t wait
to see the last of them.

The husband took all his clothes off
and was found wandering in the suburban mall
after closing hours.
His wife considered suicide
but settled for a job scrubbing hospital floors.
The kids took to booze and drugs,
both before the foreclosure and after.

That was when the stock market collapsed
and some folks pissed their savings away.
And everybody sued everybody else
to ensure the ascension of lawyers into heaven.

The husband promised to keep his clothes on
from that day forth.
The wife developed a herniated disc in her back.
One kid checked himself into a clinic to dry out.
The other didn’t.

That was when lives
that weren’t travelling so smooth anyhow
were side-swapped or smacked head on,
and some went crazy
and others hunkered down and started over.

The husband and wife are still together.
They see their kids once in a while.
Everyone somehow survives
though I don’t know how.
But then it’s like I’m viewing things
from something like Google Earth.
You never know when the picture was taken.


A large room
as studios go,
light from east window
and skylight –

I narrowed my eyes
so they completed the circuit
with hand and brush and canvas and  model.

My subject sat
enclosed in fine skin,
firm flesh,
her head proud and erect.

She placed her feet
firmly on the floor
and her left hand
rested on her right knee,
arched her shoulders
to meet her tossed-back hair.

Were she just a woman
she would have
disturbed my thoughts

But she was my model.
She disturbed my thoughts
abstractly, intellectually,
transcendently and hypothetically.
Oh yes, and greatly.

About the Author:

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Fall/Lines, the Coe Review and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Cape Rock, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.