Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By: John Grey


Leaving water country behind,
they headed for the trees,
cadenced wingbeats slow,

and I watched them
gather in high branches
that gently shook with their arrival.

This was the assembly hour,
as darkness closed the air up tight,
and the hubbub settled down.

I saw and heard no more
so I came away.


She returns no smiles,
no greetings.
When opening up is called for,
she closes down more.

Even when trapped
in a conversation,
her responses are monosyllabic,
and muttered lower than her chin.

I’ve seen her come alive
in the presence of a dog,
but then I stood at a distance,
and no people shadows

fell upon her moment.
But sitting alone
on a bench in the park,
her face is immobile.

It’s like a book full of pages
intentionally left blank.
What is she thinking, I wonder.
Do her thoughts have expressions?

Would they risk themselves
if her outside wasn’t in the way?
Pigeons draw near
and she feeds them crumbs.

Her hands are busy
and her eyes alert.
Birds get more out of this
than anyone.


Before the grape,
there is the bean.
While the fruit has barely begun to ferment,
that dark brown beauty is roasting,
400 hundred degrees Fahrenheit inside its shell,
caramelizing, turning starches into simple sugars,
giving off that delicious caffeol,
an aroma to blissfully overwhelm
that near-scentless grape.

The juice is still festering in a barrel.
But the coffee grounds are in the kitchen with me,
percolating, dripping their precious nectar
into my waiting cup.
I’m in my favorite chair,
sipping this immaculate brew,
while the wine has yet to be corked and bottle.
Done with one coffee, I begin another.
Caffeine burns off my brain fog.
Any moment now,
the day will be seized.

After leveraging this hi-test
to get me through work,
I return home still buzzing,
like some 70’s student on uppers.
Luckily, the grape has finally caught up with the bean.
I pour myself a glass.
The liquid spreads throughout my body,
cools the overheated, shuts down all unnecessary motors.
Before bed, the grape edges ahead,
and I swallow another mouthful or two,
give sleep a head start.
The grape hunkers down with me.
The bean bides its time.


In a former brothel atop a shuttered smoke shop,
mattress springs still chatter.

As does the massage table,
and the towels and the bottles of oil.

They speak Korean and Thai, some Spanish.
But the walls, the ceiling, the messy top sheets,

half-holler in brusque American accents.
And, in the tiny front room,

the desk and the chair, the moneybox,
talk up the pleasures to be had beyond the drapes.

Down below, the empty smoke-shop shelves
whisper mostly, something to do with emphysema.


Michelle, your eldest,
puts you in the bedroom
of her daughter, Kylie
who’s away at college.

Your own room as a child
was so much smaller than this.
You even shared it with a sister.
Kylie has a walk-in closet.
A book-case.
A dressing table adorned with
tiny dragon figurines.

Maybe the rich girls in your class
lived in this kind of splendor.
But not you.
Not the ones that you befriended.

Michelle had nothing like this
though it was roomier than yours.
And, for Kylie,
there’s even more space.
And what of Kylie’s children?
And her children’s children?
And how many other Kylies
are there out there in the world?
Her last thought,
before she falls asleep,
is that a bigger Earth might be necessary.

Then her dreams take her back in time,
shrink all spaces,
double the population.
She’s, once again,
the child of a woman who slept
four to a bed.
That woman steps
through the door of your room.
She can hardly believe
how huge it all is.


My age has relented.
It will let me remember.
When the wind picked up,
the current slowed
and the willows became the sound’s domain.
Not a weep.
But a rustle.

Rocks, egrets –
even the simplest things are a remembrance.
The tyranny of summer.
The arcadian rush of spring.
And Fall – my time –
when the turtles basked in the last of sun
and my fingers rippled my reflection asunder.

No more nestings.
Little bird song.
Even the insects on low wattage.
But I was a reflector even then.
In a quiet, near-suspended world,
I would let it all come to me,
as slow as it dared.

My memories nurse me.
And the city’s unguents
give way to the woodland’s salving.
A boy, by himself,
can laze on a riverbank
ask silent questions.
The air chills tight
until it can hold in its answers no more.


In an abandoned inner city lot,
two monsters are picking dandelions.

One throws a chain to the other.

“Catch it or I’ll kill you,” it says..

The monster who catches the chain
falls to the ground
while the other looms over it.

All claws, all lips,
what could be kill
turns out to be nothing more
than a kiss.

The dandelions softened them.

There could even be life
beyond the lot.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in New World Writing, California Quarterly and Lost Pilots. Latest books, ”Between Two Fires”, “Covert” and “Memory Outside The Head” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Isotrope Literary Journal, Seventh Quarry, La Presa and Doubly Mad.

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