Literary Yard

Search for meaning

‘After Covid’ and other poems

By: John Grey


I’m paying visits
to those I haven’t seen
in the past two years.

Sure, there’ve been Emails.
And phone calls.
But a life is more than just
the sounds it makes,
the words it taps out on a keyboard.

I’m knocking on doors
and ringing bells again.
I’m hugging, kissing cheeks,
sharing coffee and couches
and wine and patios.

I’m seeing faces,
feeling the touch of friendly skin.
I’m sharing presence,
that most precious of all commodities.

I didn’t just take my mask off.
I stepped out from behind it.



With every flower dead,
light has little to do.
There’s nothing to brighten.
Only bare patches of brown.

The wind doesn’t blow as much
as crank a handle,
lower the temperature.

In winter,
the sun’s less stubborn,
sets in the time
it takes to close the shades.

The sky drops like a tear,
cold and dark.



From my early teenage years.
I know they have something
to do with sex and babies.
And observation tells me,
they’re what ducks sit upon
on that tiny island
in the middle of the shopping mall pond.
They’re also oblong, hard-shelled.
seated in a cup, and waiting for me
to crack them with my spoon.
Or shattered elsewhere,
now sizzling in a greasy pan.
When it comes to being everywhere.
eggs just can’t help themselves.
At Sunday School picnics,
we’d have egg and spoon races.
The egg invariably won.
Part of the advice my Uncle Harry gave me
was to not put all my eggs in one basket.
And now I’m off to the store
to pick up a dozen eggs.
Facts of life eggs,
nesting eggs,
boiled eggs,
fried eggs,
eggs with superficial ties to religion
and eggs-in-basket eggs –
that’s 6.
I wonder what the other 6 will be.



Leaving tomorrow –

for our parting,
we chose from the menu
of a local family restaurant

and there
we sat and chatted

with the language,
the garb,
the customs,
the churches,
the museums,
the palaces,
the lakes
and the mountains

as we drank and dined on

our last chance
to be welcomed
into someone else’s
92,000 square mile home –

the next day
would just be airplanes

and there are no countries
in the sky.



Sure, my head’s stuck in my phone.
It’s how I stay connected.
Even as I’m writing this,
it’s on its way to fifteen others.

This text
is all the stuff I did today,
and you’re the first to know.

It’s everything
that happened
except the typing
of this message.

Maybe I should mention
that as well.
Otherwise, it feels
like something’s missing.



Anna’s grandparents
came to this country by different routes.
For one pair, it was choice.
But the others were displaced by war,
lost everything but each other,
arrived on these shores as refugees.

One grandparent was a medical man,
his wife, a nurse,
and their skills were needed
more than their broken English.
But the grandfather worked with his hands.
He only found work if there was no one else.
The grandmother stayed mostly in
the one room of an apartment they shared
with a distant cousin,
sewing, cooking, or staring out the window.

Both sets had children, planned and unplanned.
For the newborn, the old country
was merely a story told by trembling tongues.
The doctor’s brood flourished.
The offspring of the unskilled man
and his stay-at-home wife
ground their way slowly out of poverty.

Eventually, one of the former
met one of the latter.
The son of the doctor and nurse
had a job that didn’t embarrass him.
The poor couple’s daughter’s beauty
proved a negotiable currency.

They gave birth to Anna
and here she is telling me this.
I discover that she has
the laughs, the smarts,
the looks, the perseverance, of so many.
She tells me that her great-great-great grandfather
on her mother’s side
was a clockmaker
in what is now the Czech Republic.
So even her time is not totally her own.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Stand, Washington Square Review and Rathalla Review. Latest books, “Covert” “Memory Outside The Head” and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in the McNeese Review, Santa Fe Literary Review and Open Ceilings.

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