By John Grey

Room Without Company

A room without company  
is as lonely as a blank sheet of paper.
But then I start to write something 
on that paper.
The words don’t just appear –
they join me.

When someone enters,
the paradigm takes a shift
from within me to without.
I set aside the paper.
An other must be dealt with.

For a time
I’m returned to the world
that people inhabit.
We make conversation but,
more than that,
I acknowledge 
someone else’s solitude 
and how they deal with it
differently from me.

Then the person leaves
and I take a glance at
what I’d written
before they came.
It’s banal and boring.
I squish it up
and toss it in the trash.

A room without company
is as lonely as a poem
that doesn’t work.

When It’s Time To Go Back

When we’re almost 
eye to eye with clouds
yellowed by falling sun,
and the last tree,
once conspicuously at our feet,
is as dark as the rocks
that surround it,
and our breaths draw less air,
and shadows begin 
to fill in the trails, 
and we haven’t seen or heard a bird
in the past half hour,
and the first light flickers on
from the campground below,
and we look more and more 
at our watches,
less and less at how far
it still is to the top -
when you realize 
that all the talk in the world
won’t convince the woman
to stay with you –
at least, when it feels something like that.

Desiree, the Garden Nymph

Desiree, the name of a species of love,
of feelings that begin in nature study,
in whose sprouting the petals first open,
whose white bracts entice.

A kind of mullein often grows in such places,
sedge, hardhack, climbing the fences,
my endearing fretwork of tiny white spikes,
the fledgling heart, the green candelabra of spring.

Desiree, a face always uncovered
even as I reach below for moisture and food,
a fragrance stepping up in time,
while I lie low in obedience.

Someday, maybe, I’ll invade you,
a five-lobed calyx, a knock-kneed stamen –
if you want me – if you let me –
wooly and bitter but also pearly and everlasting.

Staying In

If you don’t want to leave the house,
say you fear the virus.
It’s the great invisible Godzilla.
It’s the Mummy, unwrapped, un-everything.
And Frankenstein’s monster.
Only this time, Frankenstein is a bat.
Maybe someone calls and says 
“Come over.”
But you’ve no wish to see this person.
Even in Covid-free times,
they were someone you could
really catch the worst from,
who could strangle your breathing,
implode whatever taste you have.
You want no Godzilla bragging.
No Mummy gossiping through its bandages.
No Frankenstein offering tepid tea
and stale baked goods.
You’ll jut sit out on your porch,
sip wine, watch the sunset.
You’re suffering from a good excuse
and you just adore the symptoms.

Winter Quarantine

The sound of a plane overhead
speaks of another day shut in;
no sky for me,
merely transit from one room to the next,
lit by the streaks of light left over
from the brilliance of going someplace.

I step outside
but I’m still no farther.
I haul logs for the fire,
the chill in my bones
like travel in reverse.

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

2 thoughts on “Room Without Company and Other Poems

  1. Room without company such a beautiful poem. But I am happy with my poem . Because for them sometimes you receive such compliment which change everything, which makes you happy and your smiles can be seen with blushes.
    Best wishes

    Liked by 1 person

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