by John Grey


Tourists trudge through
the makeshift marketplace along the dock,
inspect the obligatory merchandise:
chess sets, shell necklaces,
coconuts carved into faces.
“Very cheap,” says one local after another.

But the visitors have little time to stop.
They’re on their way
to a flotilla of buses
that will take them around the Caribbean island.
They’ll hear the history, see the sights.
No need to worry that they’ve missed a bargain.
The trinkets aren’t going anywhere.
They’ll be even cheaper on their return.

That’s how the ceramic dolphin
makes its way to a mantle in suburbia.
It keeps company with a diving horse,
a china thimble painted with a pineapple.
It’s all part of vacation Alzheimer’s.
The history fades.
The scenery’s a blur.
They forget everything but what
was made in Vietnam.


Irises bloom then wait
to be hammered by the weather.
They are born into their own savaging

Some sprout around
the statue of the bending maiden
who has lost a limb
and most likely her desire.

The meadows gleam
but then sandpaper wind
scrapes away their softness.

I can’t get over
how battered some beauty gets.

There is no justice
just a withering,
a clap of thunder
raising more young
to the west.


The stream is as thin and shallow as a ballerina’s leg.
Fishermen’s creels lower their sights.

Twilight, bugs pick up the pace.
Water stills but hands start swatting.

Men and a few small fish make their way homeward.
Should have thrown them back.

Not much more than nothing is still nothing.
Need some cream for those welts.

Conversation in the truck mostly about
how plentiful the trout used to be.

Twenty miles of shrinking expectations.
Then house lights, an expanding whole other.

About the Author:

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Homestead Review, Poetry East and Columbia Review with work upcoming in the Roanoke Review, the Hawaii Review and North Dakota Quarterly.