ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


"She Ain't Done Yet" and other poems by John Grey.



She scrubs her body diligently now.
every part.
Long beyond slick
businesslike preparation
for the work day,
or loving primp and polish
for the night out,
it's as if
she's dealing with an enemy.

She scours like she’s
getting at malignant cells.
Too late for the breasts
but still she rubs a rearguard action
with soap and steaming water.
The doctors are talking radical mastectomy.
Maybe the nodes.
Maybe even the chest muscles.
With brave wash-cloth,
she struggles to kill the beast.

"Are you almost done in there!"
her daughter shouts
from outside the bathroom door.
That all depends on how thoroughly
she cleanses.




No time for thinking in the abstract here.
Antelope nibbles on grass stalks.
Lioness stalks from thick brown camouflage.

Nothing exists outside instinct..
For this is the land of the leap, the grab,
four thrashing legs, one whipping tail.

One's head is lowered as if in prayer
that no disaster fall on it on this day.
The other looks up from its crouch,
eyes to the heavens,
as if already thanking God.

This is the land of fat paw on broken back,
sharp teeth ripping into tan hide,
vultures in tree-tops,
death catching up with plan.




I miss that sickness,
a little here by stomach,
a little there by spine,
the flesh ache,
no thoughts, no love,
just the painful sense
that I am this living thing
fighting off dying.

When I'm well,
nobody wishes me that way.
My good health is the new indifference.
They're talking to
the man, the memories,
the moods, the mayhem.
They accept they're there
without thinking.
They're not trying to
cheer me back into them

Remember me
lying in bed,
moaning and groaning
surrounded by sympathy,
hugs and flowers,
sad looks and chocolates,
kisses like Doctors without Borders,
bringing all that succor
uncaring of the threat to themselves.
Misery was never happier.

And now all I hear is,
"You're looking good."
But good's not a centering.
Nobody lingers for good.



John Grey is an Australian born poet, works as financial systems analyst. Recently published in International Poetry Review, Chrysalis and the science fiction anthology, “Futuredaze”with work upcoming in Potomac Review, Sanskrit and Fox Cry Review.

This is his first appearance in Offcourse.

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