Literary Yard

Search for meaning

‘Maine fishing village, end of day’ and other poems

By: John Grey


This evening’s ocean
is murky blue.

Locals swab their boat decks,
rid the planks of today’s fish smell,
make way for tomorrow’s.

It’s been a good day for their pots,
their nets.

Storms roll in
behind the haze.

Many men, three women,
exit the harbor
in car or on foot
as big trucks
take their catch away.

Lights twinkle in a few windows.

Bar neon
reminds tired fishermen
of their thirst.

A solitary street lamp
shines on the plaque
that commemorates
whosoever the waters took.

Halcyon days
need reminding.



She eyes her watchers
as she paces her cell.
It’s always someone new.
Her gaze feels powerless.

Her gait is all
thwarted strength,
supremacy denied,
and yet she keeps up those ellipses,
turning curtly at the poles
with a silent stamp of her paw.

She’s on the move
but the bars deny her instincts.
She hunts
but her focus comes up empty.

From time to time,
she stops and growls.
She’s spotted something.
A keeper with a key.

It’s almost feeding time.
When will is the prey,
it comes before the kill.



Once, this place would have been
like fairyland to a child,
or Valhalla to a young man too long on the road.
Now it’s all that’s available
in an otherwise sold-out town.

There’s a pinball machine in the hall
between check-in and the dining room.
And parents going both ways
dragging screaming kids behind them.
One wants his toy truck.
Another hates carrots.
Plus an old man complaining that
the motel doesn’t offer discounts.

Like it or not, these people are my company.
The string-bean couple
occupy the room next to me.
A big woman, last seen in baggy brown cords
stomps loudly on the floor above.
The place is cheap.
It’s convenient.
The clientele are pretty much the same.

At least, the dining room
has a liquor license.
I’m on my second beer.
A third should shut down taste buds enough
so the meal can be consumed.
There’s tantrums to the back of me
and various complaints on my right.
But the room has a jukebox.
I play some old Jethro Tull song.
The tune faintly echoes from the woodwork.
With all the clatter and chatter,
my ears strain to get their money’s worth.

Later, I play the pinball machine,
awaken dormant finger and wrist muscles.
How long has it been?
The thump of bumpers. Triumph of flipper smacking silver ball.
Don’t notice how many points I’ve accumulated.
My nostalgia’s not keeping score.



standing at the window
watching hummingbirds
sip nectar,
so tiny, such rapid wingbeats,
they are my living secret,
but one that’s theirs to keep

a smile
shakes loose from my mouth,
its warmth is a hum
like they make



Storm clouds dissipate.
Daylight doffs camouflage
for gentle rain,
enough rays of sunshine
to ruffle the heads of the trees.

I walk out into the fields,
sharing in fresh droplets
on my cheeks
and the drying towel
poking through the pines.

I think of places I’ve been
when traffic, tenement,
low-paying jobs,
struggling to pay bills,
kept me from the weather.
Green was fleeting.
no wildflowers of any hue,
no autumn golds.
In the inner city,
someone fires a gun
and who can imagine
any color other than red.

But the best of life
comes to me direct here.
There is no human intervention.
I spy a fresh crop of strawberries
on the bushes.
And a sunflower’s outspoken yellow.
Survival accounted for,
they move on to give me pleasure.


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. Work upcoming in Lana Turner and Hollins Critic.

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