John Grey: Three Poems


You caught me in a lie.
I called you “my rose”
though you know full well
that you are not a woody perennial
of the genus Rosa
but a middle-aged woman,
young-looking for her age,
who dresses well
and has a decent-paying job
in the city.

But I can’t help myself.
Metaphors drip from my tongue
even the simplistic ones.
You’re not an erect shrub.
You don’t have thorns.
So as to avoid seeing
you as you really are,
I seed a garden between us.
Those roses sprout, grow and blossom
and I mistake them for you.

You’re no shrinking violet either.
Or a bright grinning sunflower.
Or faithful bluebell,
Or any of a thousand and one
reproductive structures
found in blossoming plants.
But there I go again,
comparing you to that damn rose.
If only you had it in you
to stop with all this blooming.



Speaking of Matthew and Miranda
I am reminded of Europe and Africa,
castles and treetops struggling
to be most flattered by the air,
or maybe Ancient Persia
with its silks clashing with
the muskets of brash Spain,
and sometimes civilization
versus the hordes from the north
or an ancient astronomer
serving up the universe on a dish
and a pompous pope pooh-poohing facts
all the way to the gallows.
They’re like a cheat-sheet to every known conflict,
upheaval, even the least civil of all civil wars.

But with Matthew and Miranda,
I’m never sure who is who.
Is he the prophet in the desert
and she the devil ready to swap
his soul for a jug of water?
Or is Miranda pristine, neutral Belgium,
that the armies of Matthew overrun.

What amazes me is
that they’re still together.
Like the world is still together,
despite its violent history.
Of course, we now have weapons
that could blow this planet
to smithereens a hundred tunes over.
Matthew and Miranda just have kisses.
Never used brutally, on each other thank God
but incessantly tested.



She is quiet
but such a temper.
She is frugal
but then there are those
sudden spending sprees.
And kind
when she’s not being unkind.
All these mixed-messages,
opinions disrupted by their opposites,
one truth given lie by different truth –
what am I to do?

I need to chart her actions,
graph her moods,
grade her many facets
into more or less or the same.
It’s not easy.
Mathematics is one thing.
But human contact
leads to mistakes

I try to be sensitive to the reasons behind
the sudden changes,
the calm interspersed with whirlwind,
the laughter compromised by tears.

I fear
my agencies are not up to it,
my reasoning can’t go along
different lines at once.
So, day after day,
I’m acquiring more knowledge of her.
But I don’t know what to do with it.

Perhaps it’s just not possible
to live with another person.
Our long time together proves it.


— by John Grey

Copyright© 2022, by John Grey. All Rights Reserved.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead ReviewPoetry 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.


John Grey: Three Poems
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