ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by John Grey


In the photo of the two of us
you’re looking off-camera.
And our hands don’t quite touch.
I remember arguments
but the visual evidence is more subtle.
You’re partnered with
what’s out of the frame.
And your smile is pointing in that direction
like it’s blown by the wind.
In the photo of the two of us,
there’s one of us
and one of us.



It's there on Monday morning,
flickering unread.
The office is buzzing
with the details of his heart-attack
but I'm shrunk down in my cubicle,
confronted by what could well have been
his last words on this earth.
"It's working here that did it,"
someone says and no one disagrees.
Open this e-mail
and I could be an eye-witness
to that death:
between the lines of a memo,
a killer creeping;
in the darkened block
of a spread sheet,
a nefarious hatchet-man.
I consign it to the trash bin
without opening it.
He becomes instead the last time
I saw him, when he stopped me
in the hall
to discuss the ball game.
He may have died of a heart-attack.
But he suffered from
the Red Sox lack of pitching.



Sunrise, I rise in mist,
my head as cloudy as an April sky,
dull and drunken with sleep,
breath as rancid as a bloodhound’s.

You look at me oddly,
as if to wonder, “Is this what I married?”
this snore with a head attached,
these bloated eyes,
the mouth as buckled as a hose.

Yes, this expression is dirty
but it holds no secrets.
These grunts are the heart.
The precipitous yawn is the soul’s doing.
A man is a launching pad for the body’s excess.
And he’s as human as a fart.

You’re silent.
You should be but you don’t seem
ashamed to be unseen with me.
Besides, you have your dreams
of madness and insecurity
to hide behind your morning face.
You need to work up the courage
to look in the mirror.
The gentle touch of my fingers
on your cheeks doesn’t count.

Youthful innocence is no longer
the dead giveaway it used to be.
Experiences feed on skin, on expression.
When the sheets are pulled away from the body,
the years together remain.
And yet. somehow we still love each other.
Such a shame where beauty is concerned.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in New World Writing, North Dakota Quarterly and Lost Pilots. Latest books, ”Between Two Fires”, “Covert” and  “Memory Outside The Head” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in California Quarterly, Seventh Quarry, La Presa and Doubly Mad.

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