"How We All Miss the Near Miss," "End of the World, the One You Missed" and "Widower in the Park"

How We All Miss the Near Miss

You are all that matters in your border town.
Bullets ping into stone walls inches from your shoulders.
Stuff falls from the sky, lands near you.
Arms swing and fists send air the way of your chin.
And there's drinking habits that leave you part-way sober.
And love affairs that crack the heart but do not crush it.
What about those jobs you've worked,
where you quit before they broke you.
You've lived here and there -
your motto, don't let the rug burn under your feet.
Sympathy has come your way but you never had to use it,
Likewise the blessings and the belief.
Knives plunge, kisses repeat themselves,
hands are proffered, boots kick wildly...
the world aims in earnest but its reaction time is slow.
Your absence is your recent presence.
You're how moving targets got their name.



End of the World, the One You Missed

The sun,
not there
since the last eye on earth
went blind –
no more guides,
not more guide books.
Lovers strolled off the edge.
Phones went dead.
All dogs were declared officially lost.
No one knew the words.
Everything spread out was suddenly diminished.
Hands trembled but touched nothing.
No one set foot.
No monument stood.
Columns collapsed.
Wedding dresses likewise.
Cigarette butts,
the old currency,
ancient cities no more
viable than the new –
no more shapes,
no more seas.
Clocks struck other clocks.
Jails went looking for more prisoners.
The lowliest earthworms got high on cloud cover.
Walls were unmasked.
Iron rattled its own cages.
Everyone went to bed and then woke up to themselves
still sleeping.
Backs of mirrors,
where faces go to die,
signposts, done with east or west,
pointing up and down –
no more religion,
no more second coming.
Gravediggers dug the biggest hole they could
and buried everything.



Widower in the Park

The shade’s unnecessary and shrinking
here, in the park, mid-Fall.
I sit on a bench looking blankly ahead,
as if the greensward ends in nowhere.
A leaf falls from an oak,
is blown this way and that by breeze,
until it finally lands
on the bench beside me.
Happiness of other people
comes up from the meadow,
ruffles my skin but cannot penetrate.
Oh I could laugh with them in a warped way.
Even press that leaf to my lips,
make out like I’m smiling.
But the leaf is dead.
It’s not acting.
My grief is on the up and up.
Please don’t ask it to lie.



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, May 16, 2023 - 20:01