ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by John Grey


Lights out. Everybody's off
to dreamland. Even Claude who says
he never sleeps. From every bunk,
the shallow snores of young boys.
One man's nostrils would drown them all.

Ranch house. Early seventies.
In the woods though ten miles from the city.
Counselors sleep in the big house,
two to a room, have names like
Ern and Chuck and Grissom.

Woodchuck gnawing. Horses neighing.
Moon thin as the soup they served
last night. Wind picks up like it always
does when there's no need to. Shakes the
forest like a bully. Some leaves fall out.

Three a.m. Everyone's bunked down
in their bones. Just a dog howling.
One long canine wail, all there is
to mark the boundary between human
and the dark. Nobody hears thank God.



A calm,
the pond,
here herons,
there egrets,
all on hungry vigil –
far bank
on a fall afternoon,
great blue, little blue,
large white feathered stalks,
each a critical glare away
from feeding
in this meld
of light and time,
where sun slices surface,
spreads through reeds,
bent green grasses,
lifts restraints
from roots
dug deep in mud –
through wind-rippled shine
a hand dips,
water whispers,
reflection moves
in slow ritual
from who I am
to how I look to fish.



The birds are up before I am.
They chatter as my head comes round,
sing when I start yawning,
rubbing my eyes,
slowly extract myself from sheets and blankets.

The birds have streamlined the process of waking.
They go from sleep to who they are
in an instant.
I’m on my first coffee
and I still could be anybody.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Orbis, Dalhousie Review and The Round Table. Latest books, “Leaves On Pages” and “Memory Outside The Head” are available through Amazon.

Return to Offcourse Index.