John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Stand, Washington Square Review and Floyd County Moonshine. Latest books, Covert, Memory Outside The Head, and Guest Of Myself are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in the McNeese Review, Santa Fe Literary Review and Open Ceilings.
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.
up and down the street,
some pay with a bruise on the face,
a blackening of the eye,
a few just hide
from the fake storm
All I can do is stay alive.
The hills demand it.
The sparrow song asks for this above all.
There's no real air in any of these wards.
Everything is permeated with well-meaning poisons.
I stand at the window but the outside
may as well be a million miles away.
are for anyone who
No, make that needs one.
as her wrists ache,
and eyes accede
more and more to memory –
There was an America
of red brick with limestone trim.
It was small, overcrowded,
and stood, in upper New York Bay,
at the edge of that other vast America.
a big black savage dog
is chained to the axle
of a rusty Ford
in the overgrown front lawn
of a dilapidated house
The bar is stained with alcohol
with a mirror behind
so it looks as if there’s twice as many bottles
as there really are.
Everyone sleeps but him.
A gaunt though alert face
turns this way, that way,
looking for someone
to tell his jokes to.
They were young.
Maybe not the brightest.
But among the most intrepid.
They were not Hitler youth.
Their motto wasn’t “Blood and Honor.”