"Dairy Aisle Mortality" and "The Leader of His People"

Dairy Aisle Mortality

When I die,
who will take my place
in the supermarket dairy aisle?
 
Who’ll slide the door
open and shut,
quick enough so the glass doesn’t fog,
grab ice-cream with the slickness
of an outlaw going for his gun?
 
My wife says the next generation
is always coming up right behind is.
Yes, but who will fondle cheese
as lovingly as I do.
 
And what about the banks of this pond?
You can’t see my footprints
from years gone by
but they’re here sure enough.
 
Without me,
who’ll be audience
for the posing egrets?
 
Or who’ll stand to attention
every time a train rolls by?
 
There’s certain songs I love.
I would hate for them to go unheard.
And a joy to nothing more
than the sound of chirring crickets.
What if the ones being born this day
grow up indifferent to the sounds of nature?
 
I’ll leave behind no face,
no sensitivities,
not one loose thread
that someone else
can find and sew into themselves.
 
All I can do is stay alive.
The hills demand it.
The sparrow song asks for this above all.
 
My guitar stands at my side.
It’d no doubt prefer to
be buried with me.
 
My books hug together on the shelves.
I dread the thought
that they will all someday
have to make their own way in the world.
 
And then there’s the people
and how I feel about them,
Who, among you,
will feel exactly the same?
 
So here I am in the dairy aisle once again,
an odd place to be pondering my own mortality.
I pop a block of Havarti into my carriage.
If I can just eat it all before I pass on,
that’s one less thing to worry about.

 


 

The Leader of His People

They scratched fiercely,
cut deep into their own flesh.
Their gaudy blood splattered from afar.
I tried to get away
but my face, my arms,
were covered in crimson.
No matter my innocence,
I would be blamed.
 
Then they severed their limbs,
tossed them angrily.
A missile of a leg
flew in my direction,
hit me in the gut,
knocked the wind out of me.
Just my luck to be caught
with the evidence.
 
Off came their heads.
Out poured their innards.
I couldn’t move
for I was buried in the stuff.
What could I say?
I was in the wrong place
at the wrong time?
So much dead
and there I was
the only one living.
 
But they brought it on themselves.
So why was it all over me?

 

 

John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Hawaii Pacific Review, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty with work upcoming in Blueline, Willard and Maple and Clade Song.

 

Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Sunday, May 10, 2020 - 22:17