I can tell by your enraptured face,
that you're buying all this screen romance.
Don't you realize these so-called lovers
are being chaperoned by a heavy-handed director,
a lighting assistant warned to keep that bright beam
focused on her better side,
the dialogue coach
straightening out his lumpy accent.
I much prefer a nature documentary.
Give me crocodiles over humans any day.
No stand-ins. No script. No retakes.
They stalk those ducks for real.
What do your tastes tell of you?
No slinking up behind the unsuspecting.
No panicked flesh in jaw
slapped and busted on the water's
No blood on the snout
or dribbling down the teeth.
You call that kissing.
We thumb our nose at weather.
Chilly air's nefarious plot
to infiltrate water
blows up in its face
I sink down to the level of comfort.
Your toes giggle
at the jets below.
trees accede to the change of seasons.
But in the sweltering tub,
it's nothing doing.
We surrender no body heat,
refuse to believe in the consequence
of the sun going down.
The oak deck has nothing in common
with its newly pastel cousins.
Leaves already falling
are a mere pastiche
of shed jeans and t-shirts.
Warm in the bitterness,
relaxed at such an anxious time —
we've no clear line
on what's not doable.
Huge rowdy sailor with no mind of his own,
a six hour binge,
fleshy red face, boisterous, loud,
swinging his arms at an imaginary opponent —
I've my head in my drink
praying he doesn't notice me.
A woman on a stool, alone, pretty,
sipping a mixed drink
and singing a little —
we should be eye to eye
but the big guy's presence
is like this huge blockade
that keeps people apart from their dreams.
So once fertile ground
is now dark and hopeless.
He's boasting. He wants to fight the bartender.
While he downs another whiskey,
my most subtle eye
is checking out escape routes
instead of long, slim legs.
I am stuck in this position for an hour or more.
He'll come for me. I can never go to her.
I drink her kisses
but they taste like my blood.
I sip on her body
but it turns out to be his fist.
I haven't failed. But nor have I won.
I’m getting slowly drunk
on a holding pattern.
Eventually, the sailor's
had enough of himself
The woman's done with
being alone in public,
slips away into the night.
I'm weary of a world
that takes as it gives,
sours as it sweetens.
So it's another of what I'm been having
John Grey is an Australian born poet. Recently published in Paterson Literary Review, Southern California Review and Natural Bridge with work upcoming in the Kerf, Leading Edge and Louisiana Literature.
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