Poetry Break: John Grey

By: John Grey



GUY AT THE DOOR                                                                    


A care package of wine

pressed to my chest,

in fading light,

at your door, begging you to open –

because it all just keeps piling up, that’s why,

and I wail

or I tickle my heart with a knife blade,

or I compare you to some woman from before

but memory is such a faithless lover.


I am sorry if the fire went out.

Or you flipped a coin and I lost.

Or it just isn’t my turn.

Or I climb up on the shoulders of much better men,

But I’ve been down in the gutter and hacking,

and dying like the wind,

and sleeping in a fifty-five-gallon drum,

scribbling on random paper just who I am,

and, in a ridiculously unsafe place,

shouting to the world “Come get me!”

while gagging on my own green bile,

while the world hammers my head all around me.


No, I don’t bring heavy artillery.

Nor spells from the book of black arts.

I came up with mmmm.

You’ll have to take it from there.

And as much as I climbed your stairs,

I’m willing to climb down.

I’ll even lie down.

Offer you my throat.

Or my wallet.

Or even my regrets.

If you’d only let me in.

It’s been six months after all.


Yes, I’ve walked past your house more than once.

I’ve dressed like a fancy man.

Or as the kind that comes and goes.

I’ve loaded up on good advice.

And some pills to swallow in case of recklessness.




GUY AT THE DOOR                                                                               


No more pit, you understand.

Not when it all comes tumbling down on me.

And smells like the world.

I’m like an army that wants to take back its country.

Though there’s no more violence in me.

Just inhaling, exhaling.

I could even provide shelter.

I’m made of the stuff.

And, who knows,

some sweet midnight,

I could smother you in a silent pouring of sincerity.

Imagine that.

A loving banquet for the ages.

A new broom sweeping away sad human soil.


So that’s why I’m knocking.

Meanwhile, my attitude is warming up

with what I know to be the truth.

How I finally have a grip on things.

And I won’t snap and, even if I did,

I’d give you plenty of warning.

So allow me one word.

One glass of wine.

My wings are plucked.

Even my dreams no longer fly.

They take cabs everywhere.

No more drab, no more burned and black,

no more dust in swirls,

just prop me up,

let me stay indoors,

out of the grim assembly line.


Lady, you live in my thoughts.

So much hair and just enough.

A face full of the word “because.”

Because only you can put my remnants back together.

Only you can un-curdle the smoke in my brain.

Only you can bend me to your shape,

float me on your current.



GUY AT THE DOOR                                                          


I realize a fine speech is out of the question.

Just pretend you had sense enough to dig me up,

take me in out of the stink and the worthlessness,

tinker with veins of life and love to start them flowing again.

And please tell me, have I covered everything.

The wine, the evening rolling in, the knock on the door.

It doesn’t even matter if you’re home or not.

I’m on your front step.

It’s the only threshold left to me.


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