John Grey

It Is His Kind of Town

To hear him describe it,
the skies are limitless
but the town is only
forty houses long.
You cannot live in the sky, he adds,
but to get close to it
you must clear out the distractions.
So that’s why there’s but
the forty houses
and two stores and some trailers.
That’s why the little there is
can’t help but be lit
by the sunset
as surely as the clouds are.
Even as you drive up and down that street,
it acquires no depth.
The depth is in
everything that’s not the town,
everything that’s not you.
It’s the wheat fields,
that other kind of sky.
It’s the stream,
skinny as a thread,
but oh the miles it travels.
You can fret, you can scallop,
you can turret these houses
all you want, he exclaims.
You can stick a stained glass window
at the top of every staircase.
But it’s the grass that bristles
in the wind.
It’s the horizon that flares
a gorgeous fall gold and purple.
It’s the apple trees
that are most bountifully red.
It’s the roads that stretch
so far, so wide,
there’s nobody here
can take them.

Crashed Out

You met a truck-driver, head on,
on a scarred stretch of highway.

Such are the lanes of chance,
crossing over just enough

as though, in your cocoon,
you might still reach out and touch another,

even if it takes sixty miles an hour,
and a moment’s distraction.

But the late night journey home,
the shipment of furniture to Atlanta,

they have more in common than you know.
You said goodnight at another’s door.

He scoffed down two burgers at a diner.
The last little thing that goes to make

up a life until that moment.
Life — the accelerator, the steering wheel,

the tunes you’re out there with these others.
You take to the road or you’re dead already.

This you know. Thus the lack of regret.
The reflected pits waiting to devour us –

you got there first – charred remains
between the fire and gravel.

You could have circled each other,
gone your own way – but you collided.

With swerve, scream, you let go
something within us all. It’s out now.

***

John-GreyJohn Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Perceptions and Sanskrit with work upcoming in South Carolina Review, Gargoyle, Owen Wister Review and Louisiana Literature.

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