ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by John Grey


The winter comes in and looks around,
finds some flowers to throttle and bones to chill,
passions to cool, ears to blow into,
mouths to freeze, rooms to crucify,
then turns to leave, unthanked, as unattached
from human feeling as a snowflake,
but leaves a shadow, pale and spreading.
sets a curtain to fluttering, a heart, 
made fragile by the drop in temperature,
to almost break.

Beside me, Amy is rubbing the cold out of her flesh
and Samantha is looking for something warm to kiss
and I am thankful, that it's never too cold for birds,
as a few chickadees dart to and from the feeder
like eyes winking and blinking and, for all
the hardship, spring is the vision in our minds now,
we just need to prime our spirits well enough
to greet the season in good faith, even
as the hand of God is frosty and dagger-like
and prayers are small, quickly put in their place,
but, despite the unwelcome visitor, we have a fine place
that we can call our own – it cannot keep out January –
but at least it has a mind to.



I'm sorry but
another summer rolls around
and this relationship of ours,
is like a target
for a sun that's been waiting
eagerly for July,
so it can work its flame
on the likes of you and me.
One upward jerk of the thermometer
and loving faces ease off,
bodies can't stand the heat,
get out of the passion.

And then, if a romantic mood
can make it through the month
without melting,
there's always August to contend with,
relentless dog days
turning time into enervation 
the heart into a painful burn mark.

The sun takes no pity,
straps the day to the rack to stretch it.
Even night is no better.
There's enough of old sol
still in the air
for drink to be the only lovely worth pursuing.
And of course, the moon's a joke.
It's fat and red with embarrassment.
No point hopping into bed together.
We'd only double the sweat, the disappointment.

Best wait for fall when the death of everything
sours the disposition.
Or winter when the cold numbs all feeling.
Or spring when the rain dampens it.
Maybe there'll come a time when there's no weather.
Or no excuses, whichever comes first.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in That, Dunes Review, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in Qwerty, Thin Air, Dalhousie Review and failbetter.

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