ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by John Grey


He died on the operating table.
A bad reaction to the anesthetic so they said.
His heart was weak anyhow
and it just couldn't take it.

We could see him once he'd
been tidied up, they said,
as if that was some comfort,
some relief.

But if family is a play
in many many acts
then suddenly one of
its principals was missing.

Now we had one less to love,
one more to mourn.
And another chilling reminder
that nobody lives forever.

With company reduced by one,
it upped the likelihood of being alone.
There'd be calls not made,
many a rendezvous not met.

What died on that operating table
was Saturday morning breakfast at the diner,
sports talk, fish stories,
even reminiscences of war.

Our gathering at Easter
would go ahead as planned
but severely diminished,
almost inconsolably so

There was the usual chatter
like "He would wish us
to go on with our lives."
And this from a man who was done with wishing.




I'd see her late at night
at a coffee shop.
She'd be with mutual friends.
I became part of the assembly.

Once the place closed,
we'd go up to her loft
for more coffee
and sometimes even wine.

Her rooms were full of canvases,
some done and hanging on the wall,
others unfinished.

It was the perfect atmosphere
for intense conversation
that always broke up into laughter
before resuming again.

In her company regularly,
she slowly became
less bohemian,
less kooky
and more beautiful.

The first time I ever saw
her in the daylight,
she was halfway up a fire escape
trying to retrieve a lost kitten.

No longer the artist,
she was just somebody
looking for a stray.

I'd once imagined her
asking me to pose for a picture.
But I was lost and vulnerable.
That seemed a better way.




My knocks sound as if
I've stripped bare
all of my favorite songs
down to the drummer.

You won't answer my melody.
Maybe my incessant beat
will make you more responsive.

I know you're in there.
I can hear you tapping your feet.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Fall/Lines, Euphony and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Cape Rock, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.  .

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