ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by John Grey


After the march
came the picnic in the park.
My wife and I
spent an hour or more
cradling drinks.
catching up with friends.

Then, when we were seated.
and the food relay began,
my eyes fell on
two gentlemen together,
nibbling on their meals.
heads bowed
like they were falling into formation.

They were both in uniform,
green to match their eyes,
with medal bars
shining golden in the afternoon.

I could sense the togetherness
born of sharing the same trenches,
dodging the same bullets.

And they were just two of many,
so many soldiers
eating and drinking,
joking and laughing.
shaking hands and swapping tales.

The sights, the sounds,
were addictive.
I was ready to believe
that they all had made it home



She is someone at the threshold.
No holding back, where she’s concerned.
I’m the one feeling the terror,
making the nervous jokes.
She’s like a fledgling
flexing her talons, flapping her new wings,
at the tip of a branch,

And, like that mother bird,
I always knew that she would fly someday.
And with me so heavy
and she so light,
just growing older
would feel like flight anyhow.

Some boy is calling for her at seven.
Until he gets here, he’s a serial killer,
a rapist, and, when he arrives…
that may not change.
But I can’t stop them leaving together.

Like her, I am someone on the verge.
But I can’t fall over,
can only topple backward.
So I’m safe.
But how safe is knowing the drop is there.



Roy's old man
gets a haircut
in that store-front barber
on West Street
between Jake's pizza
and the coin shop;
his cronies hang out there,
loll about the long bench
beside those actually
waiting their turn
with the shears;
battered back and forth
by barber, customer,
and those with no
better place to be;
it's mostly sports,
occasionally politics,
once or twice.
a young woman strutting
down the street;
as a boy, Roy
was dragged there
by his father.
complaining bitterly
the whole way,
especially when
his locks were cut
almost to the bone;
he still can't pass
that barber's shop by
without a grimace;
now. Roy sees a stylist;
his father sees
what he wants to see.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Hawaii Pacific Review, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty with work upcoming in Blueline, Willard and Maple and Clade Song.


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