"Champagne for Two" and "Boys' Names"

Champagne for Two

We're in France so why not indulge ourselves.
And the tavern is the only shade around,
the sky, the striated hills, given up to vineyards:
the Pinot Noir, white chardonnay.

And we're in Champagne so to order some laconic red
would be an insult.
We didn't drive winding roads through blinding dust
to sample where we've come from.
You and I are travelers so authenticity is everything.

Methode Champenois, they call it.
It's fermentation round two that does the trick.
We're sipping the good deeds
of yeast and rock sugar.
And nucleation points
that burst against the fine-honed flute,
the suddenly sophisticated tongue.

Earlier, we visited the winery,
climbed down into the vaulted cellars
where years add gravitas and taste.
And, as our host explained the process,
I could have sworn I saw a silent monk,
in dim light, floating among the barrels,
pausing now and then to savor, to assess,
to give his approval to worldly pleasure.

I'm feeling a little light-headed.
You've taken up the surrounding laughter
and added your own spin on happiness.
This is the end of another journey.
As American as we way be,
I am thankful there is room
for other worlds in us.
And when they’re carbonated…
even better.



Boys' Names

Every day a list of chores -
no end in sight -
Anna methodical, careful
around knickknacks
wiping away the accumulated dust -
a white cloth turning gray -
buffing wood back to light
as her wrists ache,
shoulders protest
and eyes accede
more and more to memory –

what was his name anyway?
the boy at the lake,
swinging from a rope
to an oak branch -
not Tarzan,
though the fool may have wished it were so -
and the splashy kiss
while a silly fish circled their feet -

was it Mark?
it seems to her there were
a lot of Marks about back then -
but the name reminds her to much
of the blemishes on her arms and face,
the varicose veins -

time to scrub the floor now -
maybe that's what made her think of water -
and a brush
of hard bristles -
the mess she made of her hair
getting ready for that prom date -
and the boy at the front door -

was it Matthew?
even if it wasn't
she likes the name -

down on her knees,
eye-lashes almost brushing the tiles,
she thanks God that Matthew can't see her like this
even if there never was a Matthew.



John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Stand, Santa Fe Literary Review, and Sheepshead Review. Latest books, Between Two Fires, Covert and Memory Outside The Head are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in the McNeese Review, La Presa and California Quarterly.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Tuesday, February 12, 2019 - 22:31