Another party
on another tenement third floor.
He gets there late.
There’s people speaking Spanish.
There’s some speaking English.
It’s a neighborhood bash
and it’s that kind of neighborhood.
The food’s mostly Mexican,
tacos, burritos,
and the beer’s Corona
though someone lugged along
some Coors.
Everyone seems to be having a good time
when he gets there
and nothing stops because of him.
He tries the salsa.
It sets his mouth on fire.
No problem.
The beer is like
a red truck with a Dalmatian
running behind.
He finds a chair,
a place to listen in
to words he cannot follow.
Then he stands around
with a couple of guys he knows,
talking baseball.
Two Guatemalans join in.
They’d rather talk
stuff they love
in fractured English
than listen to the latest
on Maria’s baby
in their native tongue.
He gets into the back and forth
of cultures.
He even blurts out
“Bueno” once or twice.
By two a.m., he’s drunk,
that third race,
and there’s plenty more like him.
His arm’s around a Puerto Rican girl.
“Adios,” he says to his parent’s worst nightmares.
“Dar las gracias,” he adds to his new most favored dreams.


Providence to Brisbane –
it’s a ten-thousand-mile journey
back in time.

First night, jet-lagged,
I sleep enough for six journeys
until the sun wakes me,
lights up, just for my sake,
its favorite continent.

I hear the surf near, rowdy, boisterous,
no longer that blunted New England
splatter on exposed rock.

No blue-jay hack.
No mourning dove moan.
From palm trees,
sulfur-crested cockatoos
shriek like nineteen-thirties’ paperboys.

This is the land
I was born and raised in.

I hear sounds,
see sights,
from ten thousand miles ago.


Days of drawing beards
and moustaches
and devil horns
on politicians are long behind him.

blackening alternate teeth
of grinning models.

These days
he merely scrawls
the word “sucks”
whenever and wherever he can.

A man and his spray can
prowl the sorry advertising halls
of night.
When the lights go out,
there’s just this giant sucking sound.


Peaches in paper bags,
apples with cozy names like honey crisp,
pumpkins jammed together on benches
like faceless jack-o’-lanterns,
heirloom tomatoes preening in the sun,
skins yellow and red and green.
This is a time when no work of art,
no gorgeous landscape,
no attractive man or woman,
catches the eye.
It’s a day for fruit and vegetables,
fresh from the tree, the soil.
It’s when the farmer looks his best
just so no one will look at the farmer.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Orbis, Dalhousie Review and Connecticut River Review. Latest book, “Leaves On Pages” is available through Amazon.