“To be a poet is a condition, not a profession.” ~Robert Graves, in response to a questionnaire in Horizon, 1946.~
There’s not one that can lay down
a decent bunt.
The coach shouts orders
from the backstop:
“Hands higher on the bat.
Legs and shoulders squared
toward the pitcher.”
May as well tell those eleven year olds
to sing opera.
Their nature is to swing for the fences.
A gentle tap to send the runners along
is a message that crackles into static
before it can reach an car.
“Drop it like it’s a fly ball
that bounces from your glove.
God knows, that’s happened
But these kids can’t take their eyes
off the centerfield stream
that curls in and out of
the abandoned brick factories.
and a bunt is not a dream.
A homer is.
The coach remembers how
his father used to yell
the very same stuff at him.
Only when he was out of organized ball
did he see the wisdom.
And now he’s his father
trying to deal with himself as a kid.
So he screams at his charges
like it’s his younger self in the batter’s box.
Sacrifice is the perfect name for it.
EACH TO HIS OWN MONSTERS
People burning in a field,
blood steaming out their pores –
their cries get on my case.
Another sorry lot
attacked by giant wolves,
ripped raw by claws –
what do they expect me to do?
The encroaching killer vines
arc not my problem.
Nor is the rain of daggers from the sky
or the zombies stumbling from the cemetery
out into the neighborhoods.
And no. this is not God,
doing His ‘you got yourself into this,
now get yourself out’ routine.
I’m a mere stockbroker
on the thirtieth floor of
a downtown Manhattan skyscraper.
All these victims of floods
and war and earthquake
and poverty and disease –
will they come to my aid
when the bears attack?
I don’t think I’m being greedy
but if I could smell through your hair
all the way down to the fat and fibrous tissue…
then why not.
And if I could approach your throne
on near to even terms,
fondle the ridges in your snowmelt,
find shelter in your slopes and clefts and fingers,
maybe lick the salt from your neck,
trace whatever veins materialize at the touch.
As for air, that thin shell of gases,
I’d like a crack at that vital spot
where you share it with your lungs.
Can I have the moon while I’m about it,
the golden, full phase…
as a substitute for when you’re sleeping.
And the reach and rootage of the trees…
in the night especially.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Stillwater Review, and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia College Literary Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review.
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