Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By: John Grey

Photo by Pixabay on


A small unicorn
cupped in my hand
or the dead .and missing
slowly strolling up my sidewalk
like it’s Halloween in January —

the rain playing something
by Duke Ellington
or a finger wrapped in cellophane
sent to me parcel post —

the garden rising up in anger,
a fence post-singing “My Way”,
a change of seasons deep inside a trashcan
or a body floating down the river
with a flag pole skewering its stomach –

a dozen dancing lilacs?,
a gingerbread man in a straitjacket,
a woman with three lips
and an archangel with none —

these are the incidents
I bring up
when someone asks me,
“What is wrong with you?”

That someone is
usually a bespectacled wading bird,
Once it was a-hedgehog
with a beard.



Sun is down completely.
Nothing in the sky for now.
Moths begin the transition
by attacking the porch light.
I sit below, sipping wine,
rocking like a leaf on pond ripple.

The roads before me are empty
but cars could come.
And, even as the flowers fade,
their scents are subtly irrepressible.

There’s a chill in the air
like a spider crawling up the back of my neck.
But, when alone,
I do better on the outside,
no matter the weather.

Someone might stroll by and wave.
A kid’s ball could float into my yard.
Some stars may appear.
They do.
And a thin moon sliver.
It does.
Who can know if I don’t?
Everything leans on my being here.



What is sorrow
but intermittent rain drops,
some descending violin notes
and a day-old newspaper
blown across a sparsely populated park.

It’s no scholar.
It’s not an early adopter of the latest technology.
Nor is it a connoisseur of fine things.
And, though it writes well from time to time,
its art is limited.

I remember sorrow
when it was
a splinter under the skin,
a fall from a bike,
my mother’s emphatic “no!”

It hasn’t so much grown up since then
but trended toward the impersonal.
No longer pain –
but an empty mail box.
Not an impedance
but the dousing of a light.

Even now,
a solitary leaf
drifts down from an oak bow.
And a radiator coughs
in an empty room.
Yes, even now.



The moonlight finds them
slithering diamonds across
the desert’s ancient ocean bed.
Mice and jackrabbits are on high alert,
twitter in the shadows.

Every rock, every stand of saguaro,
is a potential ambush.
Snakes make the Sonora
as deadly as a weapon.

Not even we are immune.
They are the fear
that binds the landscape to our breath.
Just as we accept our ascendency,
we hear the rattle of a dissenter.



How few will think
in Spring’s supposed renewal
that gray will be omnipotent
and not the green,
their favored tableau.

Not Turner, not Constable,
but a gloomy poem of Poe.
No free-flowing impressionist river
but a sluggish brown stream,
the kind the factories make.

Wildflowers, warm temperatures,
are like the father who refuses to see you
because you’re gay
or you’re marrying ‘that girl.’

drizzle will have boots on the ground,
cold will unsheathe its sharp claws,
as the body starts to wonder
if good health is worth anything.

All this
and your mother-in-law too,
What’s her name?


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, “Leaves On Pages” “Memory Outside The Head” and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Ellipsis, Blueline and International Poetry Review.

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