Poetry from John Grey




Due west, as we drive,

mountains, colored mostly from the red spectrum,

rise up in a line.

I feel a little like the captain

of a charging army.

The enemy won’t shoot

until they see the whites of my eyes.


The land’s been so flat until now

but, ahead of us,

the world no longer adheres to that lie.

My wife turns down the radio.

It’s like she wants to be able to hear

what she’s seeing.

Even in the back seat, boredom gives way to awe.


“Those are the Rockies,” I proclaim.

So I’m the head of an expedition now.

Once again, my team fail to recognize their leader’s genius.

Closer and closer, we come.

Higher and higher soar the mountains.

“Are you sure there’s a way through?”

asks my wife.

I toss the road atlas into her lap.

“If Rand McNally says there’s a road,

then there’s a road.”

Rand and McNally are correct but just.


Up into the high country, we go

on a narrow strip of pavement.

There’s mountains on all sides.

My wife gets nervous at some

of the drops a few feet from our wheels.

The kids are on the lookout for grizzlies.


I raise my hand, toast thin air,

utter “So what do you think?”

like I’m showing people around a house I built.

“Look where you’re driving!” shouts my wife.

“How come there’s no bears,” snarl the children.

I surround them with splendor –

but they’d rather be safe

or, if not, eaten.




Wherever 1 go, the road walks with me.


Sundown, sky blackening then stars blazing.

Moon strung out in the sky.

It’s slow going on a vast thoroughfare.


Wind from the north chills the cheeks,

numbs the lips, numbs the upright thumb.


Distant mountains to the west-

Flat land on either side. No trees.

Gnat clouds rise up from the soil.

1 hear their buzz like human voices,

spliced and scattered, spiked with rubber and tar.


A truck rolls by. A Buick, A Honda,

Haven’t scored a ride in years.

It’s the age we live in.

People wouldn’t even stop for themselves these days.




A gunshot booms from the distant cliffs.

Startled mallards are flung into the sky

to be dropped like well-buckets

by the very next volley.


A rickety motor-boat drifts by our dock,

filled with red-faced men,

their rifles pointed heavenward,

each a little anxious


that there’ll be nothing left to kill

when they get where they’re going.

More shots ring out.

One man cusses.


Another almost chokes on his ham sandwich.

“Leave some for us!” shouts a third.

A rowboat trails behind them.

Farther back, two would-be Daniel Boones


paddle a worse-for-wear canoe.

It’s duck season.

But the license to kill

is not a guarantee.


For the air’s not plentiful enough

to satisfy the very last bullet

in the very last gun.

“When it’s finally fired,


there’ll be all echo,

no cries of “Got one!”

It’ll be the loneliest sound this season

for wild-duck and for man.




Even when I dream, she wants my body.

Such a slut, she doesn’t care that my

wife is sleeping soundly beside me.

It’s never about love with her.

The hormones are red hot

and something must be done.


My wife cooks such great meals for me.

But what does the other care.

The more I eat, the more that banshee

leaves me hungry.

My wife buys me a new watch.

But this calculating mistress

dangles words before my eyes.


It doesn’t bother her that she’s a whore

and everybody knows it

No sneaking her off to a hotel room.

She marches brazenly up to my study,

lures me away from every

promise I’ve ever made,

everyone I’m close to.


I can’t deny that she’s seductive.

Some nights she’s just plain beautiful.

Other nights, a worn out hag but,

even then, she tempts.

What choice have I?

A man has needs.

and writer’s block is sexless.