By John Grey

The Fate Of The Poem

I let it go
and the wind took it,
or was that the mail.
It had a thousand mile trek
ahead of it
through six states
and who knows
how much rain soaked it,
how many dogs chewed it,
which spotty teenage girl
mistook it for a love letter
from a high school quarterback.

All I know is
it was off my property
and out into the world,
the name on the envelope
just an excuse
for it to run with the bulls,
ride with the cowboys,
or help flame the fires
on a cold night in hell.

Poem, you dare call it.
May as well refer to it
as an intestine,
or a decree nisi,
or the year 1993.
Better beware,
for there's so many more
where it came from.
Its creation falls back on me.
But its fate is in the journey's hands.

My Presence In The Woods

I am a series of false alarms.
Startled birds soar skyward
as if I am a two-legged 
ground-dwelling raptor.
A hare,
in fear of my invisible rifle,
bounces to safety 
in triple time.
A fox goes all foxy on me,
slips into the nearby brush.
A snake pivots,
threatens for a moment,
before slithering away.
I am as harmless as the breeze.
But I look like an ill wind.

On Track

These locomotive tracks 
haven’t seen a train  
in fifty years or more.
They’re rusted a dull brown.
The ballast is scattered.
And rail ends,
is nowhere to be found for
a hundred yards or so.
then starts up again.
It should be technology’s graveyard
but my imagination’s 
bringing it to life again.
Any moment now,
a train could be headed my way.

I follow the trail into the woods.
They’re just thick enough
to block out the distant traffic noise.
But there’s enough woods
for a bear maybe,
a herd of deer,
even Hawkeye, Chingachgook 
and Uncas to be roaming.

There’s a pond hereabouts.
Like a magician, 
I can turn it into a lake
or even an inland sea.
And this clearing
is surely an old New England village.
There’s a woman 
with an A burnt into her breast
who’s the center of much scandal.

Then it’s back to these railway lines.
Their destinations have faded
but only if I think in real time.
And sometimes I don’t.
That’s when they take me places.

Mornings At The Pond

The pond is smooth and still enough
to float Millais’ Ophelia.
Shadows of oak and elm 
stripe the banks.
Light drapes liquid beads 
across lily pads.

Dragon-flies beat their wings
into a low buzz.
An egret stalks
the peewee piscatory population.
A frog plops.
Three turtles bask.
The slithering snake
is as unthreatening as the breeze.

But there’s more.
Below the surface,
under rocks,
in shoreline tunnels,
there’s always more.
To see it through my eyes
is to not know the half of it.

Don’t Let Appearances Mislead You

I’m resting under the old oak.
Once again it offers me shade
from the searing summer heat.
I’m relaxed.
Gathering strength.
More purposeful 
than what you’d imagine
just be looking at me. 

Any moment now,
I could rise to my feet,
go out and act on it,
say what needs to be said,
fix what requires fixing,
take one thing down,
put up another,
cut down, meld together,
rescue, capture. 
haul and hinder,
give and take back.

Yes, with my eyes closed,
back against trunk,
you could mistake me
for a do-nothing. 
But I’m a man of action.
And, at the very moment,
when action’s not required.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Poetry Salzburg Review and Red Weather. Latest books, “Covert” “Memory Outside The Head” and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Washington Square Review and Open Ceilings.

2 thoughts on “The Fate of the Poem and Other Poems

  1. Don’t let appearances mislead you:
    Beautifully crafted poem. The last 3 lines are the punch lines. Love the subtle humour.


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