All that peer pressure,
no wonder she felt
sorrow, anger,
at her intact hymen

No way she could
snip the thing herself
and no doctor would
do the bloody deed.

So a one night stand
it was, a drunken one
that, to this day,
she doesn’t even remember.

It was nothing like
the romantic trysts
of Harlequin books
or she-movies.

The incident gave
birth to dread
that wasn’t lifted
until her next period.

And even then,
she asked herself
a thousand times,
“Can I really be sure?”

Her girlfriends were
in serious relationships by this.
Some even lived
with a guy.

So she had much more
drinking to do.
Enough for a life.
Enough to join in a conversation.


Ten thousand poems about love, desire
and none that strike that singular friendship chord.
I have been neglectful in my art.
You sit beside me, occupy the place
reserved for bosom companion, ally,
colleague, supporter, helper,
warmest of warm acquaintances.
Beyond the kiss on the cheek,
there’s so much you would do for me.
The hug is but the surface.
Beneath are bedside vigils
through my worst sicknesses,
supportive pep talks in my darkest days,
the laughs, the heart-felt conversations
where each side was respected,
no quiet word went unheard.
Fear not, romance will always have its day.
But friendship has its lifetime.


Go ahead.
You own the moment.
Not a tremble
between tiptoes
and the fingertips
of your raised arms.

Your concentration is catching.
Your risk.
Our breath.
One on one.

You dart forward,
pivot at the edge,
leap up and out,
tuck and roll,
not once, but twice,
then stab the green water,
with hands like sharp knives,
cut through the surface
without splash.

We are a race
who lounge in deck chairs,
rub oil on skin,
read books by John Grisham,
sip pina coladas.

What can we do
but sit up,
stop rubbing and reading,
put aside our cool drinks?
What can we do but stare?


she asked me for a favor
and while she was
asking it
I was already wondering
what favor
I could demand of her
in return

hers was something
as simple
as reaching into
the glove compartment
for something

while I wanted her
to give me
what i would remember
for the rest
of my life –

in the end
I acceded to her request
and never did ask for
a damn thing in return –

that’s another favor
if you think about it


It’s year’s end,
down to the dregs
of a worthless twelve months,
when other people
were let off the hook for once
and bad things happened to us,
as even the celebratory sex
has a tinge of death
in its nostrils,
and words after
are mere whispers,
can barely find the strength
to leave our mouths,
as yellow moonlight
finds common ground
with the window,
but offers no helping hand
to us,
so we just lie here,
blinders on,
blocking the view of December
as best we can,
as January approaches cautiously,
on the stroke of twelve,
is barely on time,
but makes it,
chilly and loud
with nearby fireworks,
promising nothing
but including us for now.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Poetry Salzburg Review and Floyd County Moonshine. Latest books, “Covert” “Memory Outside The Head” and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in the McNeese Review, Rathalla Review and Open Ceilings.