John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, “Leaves On Pages” “Memory Outside The Head” and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Ellipsis, Blueline and International Poetry Review.
John Grey has been previously featured on In Parentheses.
AT A FANCY RESTAURANT, CATCHING UP WITH AN OLD LOVE
We sat down
opposite one another,
nervously jerked our napkins
from their holders.
It was, of course,
stupid to pretend that,
after so long a separation,
we would feel the same
But, whether it
was the communal atmosphere,
the noise from
the surrounding couples.
I felt surprisingly relaxed.
She even laughed
when the waiter asked
if we were celebrating anything.
And I could always stick
a loaded fork in my mouth
when I had nothing to say.
And her loveliness
did affect me keenly,
corralling fugitive memories,
stirring up old delights.
In some ways,
it was like sharing company
with a portrait.
I could have even been
but one who gifted it
to his subject
LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP
It’s a small airport
and you’re easy to spot
among the handful of greeters in the lounge.
As I carry my suitcase to your car,
you’re too excited for human speech,
our conversation a gargle of
“how was the trip” and “your hair is different.”
We drop my bags at your place
and then the town comes to your rescue,
your guided tour of its scattered highlights
calming you down enough
for the rest of your words to make sense.
You cook supper for two,
apologizing all the way
for your lack of culinary skills,
then it’s off to a club
to see your favorite local band,
It begins to rain and you apologize for that as well.
And then you’re sorry
that the band must seem amateurish to me,
not what I’m used to in the big city.
That’s followed by more sorrow
that it’s your time of the month.
We’re woken first thing
by a call from your mother.
Your father’s ailing and may not make it.
You rush around trying to get a flight to the west coast.
I do the same only in the opposite direction.
On the way home, I’m wondering to myself,
who was that woman?
Even – who was that man?
Or – what just happened?
That night, I’m back in my apartment.
It’s like I never left.
That’s what comes of a long distance relationship.
We’re never so apart
as when we’re together.
HER FIRST TIME LIVING WITH A MAN
It was her first time
face to face
with a laundry basket
overflowing with her lover’s clothes.
She could see the sweat stains,
smell the Old Spice.
He’d only moved in a week ago.
But there was a look
to the shirts, the boxer shorts,
the jeans, the socks,
like they were now in charge,
and not the frilly things,
the scented blouses, slacks
that preceded them
into the washing cycle.
Not wishing to delve any further
into the nastiness
of where cloth meets man,
she dumped the lot
into the gaping mouth of the machine,
added powder, pushed buttons,
and the beast roared once more to life.
She stepped back to watch
seven days of his presence
spin aimlessly, soak thoroughly,
for a fascinating fifteen minutes,
before coming to a sorry end,
in a lump at the cylinder’s base.
Everything came out limp, clean
and totally tamed.
And no less a man.
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32 pages, published 1/15/2022
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80 pages, published 10/15/2020
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