John Grey

A January Snowfall

 

Blue forehead to match her eyes,

a young girl trembling

in the dark doorway

silently freezing in her orange parka 

while a man in shirt sleeves   

is drunk and unaware,

greets the cold with a large handshake,

barely able to contain 

his alcoholic joy –

all this, while the road and sidewalk 

vanish under snow,

the city’s calluses are smoothed over white,

the river below is a vague shadow -

a woman and son hold tight to one another

as they slip and slide

on their way to the steamed windows 

of the coffee house,

a car alarm bleats, 

a cop car inches forward 

at the same pace as flakes fall,

the chill is on the lookout for 

the homeless guy with the same lank hair

as the night before,

or the hatless, the gloveless,

even the jackets that are not quite thick enough,

and the smart dresses 

that leave legs below the knees 

to their own devices –

it’s January 2005, eight at night,

wind swirls, lights blink,

mouths barely move,

each step requires care and patience,

eyes cast down,

and the constant wipe

of damp smudge from the cheeks,

as I head west, 

pass occasional pilgrims

on their way east,

as I head toward the apartment of a friend,

where I can sip wine, stare out the window

laud the purity, the loveliness,

at their worst.

Knowledge Speaks

 

Puny and irrelevant,
that’s how I feel -
my act is centuries old,
              but now nobody notices -
the kind of audience
I get these days
is corrupted by the gadgets 
they hold in their hand,
the constant blitz of fingers
on a screen –
I’m useless and pathetic
to those in their seats texting –
               their attention has shifted
               from what I could teach them
               to the twitters of their friends -
I’ve got to give it to them though,
their eyes sure know
how to look elsewhere.
 

Pioneer

 

Who but the promiscuously insane ignore the landscape?

 

And if you had no more than a meager understanding

of language, mathematics and astronomy

 

but a worthwhile pick and shovel.

And the ground was beneath you.

 

And you had seed in one pocket.

And a raincloud in the other. 

 

Your sanity would be assured.

 

In spring when stalks pierce the shallow soil.

In summer, as crops bloom in one great golden blush.

In fall, when the harvesting decapitates field after field

of willing victims.

 

Slough off those lowdown mortgage blues.

Click the heels in an old country dance. 

 

The earth is a great teacher.

And there’s nothing like learning

what you know already.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Sin Fronteras, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty with work upcoming in Blueline, Willard and Maple and Red Coyote.