Literary Yard

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‘A Couple’ and other poems by John Grey

By: John Grey


We’re a couple.
There’s been this path
from you and me
to us
that we both willingly took.

Now nothing is one us
or the other.
We’ve joined up.
I lead. You follow.
You lead. I follow.
No, not even that.
We lead and follow

We sleep in the same bed.
Doze off, wake up,
We’ve volunteered to be twins
Always in each other’s thoughts.
In each other’s bodies
when the mutual mood hits.

So we’re seamless,
Praise one and it’s praise all around.
Hurt one you hurt the other.
We call it love
not surrender of identity.
But you don’t get to call it anything.
Nor do I.



On the fish banks, memory,
womb and ocean depths
she could converse for hours and hours.

Uncritical, romantic, repetitious,
she would never breach once
if she could do it five times in succession.

Strength was her strength.
Curiosity was her weakness.

And there she lies now, on the beach,
at low tide, at length.



Today, out the window.
I witnessed crowds, drums, flags, fireworks
and processions.

Each was like the tentacles
of an octopus
with the country itself
as the head.

They had won a war
or, at least, were pretending they had,
so every tongue, every scrap of tickertape,
had a job to do,
proclaim victory,
and maybe even peace…
but only as an afterthought.

I was tired.
I longed for sleep.
But passion and narcissism
demanded otherwise.
The character of the nation
was on the line.
They didn’t want me,
even if I was just a face
behind glass,
spoiling it for everybody.

So I cheered.
Who am I to mock firepower and ambition?
Even if these were what brought about
the war in the first place.

For without these celebrations,
whither the people’s soul?
It’s like any necessity.
It creates its own need.

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