Poetry / Poets / Writers / Writing

Poems by John Grey


So there you have it – snakes and satellite dishes.
And numbers of course — one follows neatly
after the other. Remember them.
They’ll never let you down.
But beware the snakes — thin and elusive as they are
in these New England woods, they still
can bite. And those dishes turn something you
can’t see into something you can.
And if it’s Animal Planet, and they’re
broadcasting a documentary on rattlers
or adders or pythons — that’s what we call
full circle. But with numbers, there’s none
of that unless you count the zero and
count all you want, you’ll never get there.
For the numbers go on and on. They don’t
ever get back to where they started.
They’re even ignorant of the one before.
Stick with them. They’ll make you rich.
There’s this thing called infinity
and snakes will never get you there,
and nor will satellite dishes,
but if you count and count,
than you have a fighting chance..
And if you pass this information on…
well that’s how we live forever isn’t it.
Long after you squish the snake on a back road,
and the satellite falls from the sky,
there’s a grandson or two learning
their numbers…no, learning your numbers.


A live volcano —
your heart joins in the eruption.

You’re sixty years old —
that’s big as any island.
An ancient continent, she says.

A stream of lava down a mountainside –
despite that pain in your back.
not everything’s receding.

Your wife would rather not smell the vapors.
The burning innards of the earth
are a far cry from Chanel # 5.

But how often do you get to see geography in motion.
And where it hisses into the sea,
the world is making more land.
That doesn’t happen in Wisconsin.

But your wife came for the beaches.
She longs to do the black bear one better,
hibernate in plain sight.

Wisconsin’s already hunkered down in front of the television
but the big island is the real show.
How could a Seinfeld rerun ever top
what’s happening in the now.

Your wife hangs tight to the car
as you walk out on black cinders.
The world grows beneath your feet -.
good place for it.


Those others are the sunrise mountains.
Refer to them in other poems.
Mine are the ancient twilight humps and mounds,
creatures made ominous by the fading of the day.
Not for them the bright approach,
all braced for morning,
catching the angle right.
They don’t care where tree-line ends,
how snow melts in sun like faces.
My mountains won’t give up
their willfulness for-anything.
Their white peaks are like caps
pulled down over rocky eyes]
Lot’s wife was more disturbed than these,
Horatio less Spartan.
Even at midday, they give up their shadow
on sufferance.
And in afternoon, when sun glares back at them,
they grimace like statues to the death,
My mountains swallow hikers, devour hunters.
Climbers lose their grip long before their hands do.
If it’s a stare-off between light and granite,
then I know who remains in darkness.
Night after night, I look out my bedroom window,
fascinated by what I can’t see.
My mountains take no prisoners.
But they encourage them.



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