candles drip slow
as how we’d love to time to go
while fledglings
in the stereo’s nest
continue to chirp
over snowfall’s
precious window flakes
and wine nurses
a ten-year-old crop
through our lips
and the moon
dallies behind clouds
sketchbook in hand


I planted seed
in soil that mostly grows rocks –
it felt almost Biblical.

And I opened a bank account,
bedded down with Mammon.

The seed took root.
The account dared me
to see out the week
without draining every penny.

The earth surprised me
with a stalk, a flower,
even some perfume.
My checkbook
failed to cheer me up
but, at least,
it didn’t depress me.

I didn’t pluck the flower.
Instead, I let its beauty
wither and renew
with the seasons.

My account was like
the kind of company
that takes more than it gives
yet I still can’t live without.

And now, it’s winter.
The flower is resolving its future
somewhere beneath the world’s surface.
My checking account
is shoring up its defenses
in anticipation of a coming heat bill.

Beauty and finances –
they align somehow
in my modest plot of property.

It’s a kind of mutual patronage
that is still being done.


It’s one more season for an old lady
as she sinks down into her garden plot,
a knot of gray hair under a Red Sox cap
and a face full of giggling wrinkles.

Her gray eyes never come close to gleaming,
too dulled by the thoughts behind them,
as she’s down on her knees, clipping the rose bush
in ancient Levis, scuffed sneakers,

her only duty in a family-less world
is to plant and prune, fertilize and water.
With grubby hands pressed together,
she prays to the gods of ceaseless renewal,

from the spring’s hope, the summer’s bounty,
through the fall’s recession and the winter’s decimation.
Her fingers linger on the fluttery red petals.
They are gentle reminders of the blood in her veins.

She once poured a man a cold beer.
She brushed the dandruff from his Brooks Brothers suit.
She stood on tip-toes to kiss his cheek.
She never put herself between that man and his fishing rod.

But her better half is seeds and bulbs now.
It’s her favorite peppermints and strong tea.
She rarely thinks about the little time left.
She leaves it to the dahlias to make plans.


Such an unfettered sky.
The light stretches as wide as there is space to fill.
Chaise-lounges battle for position.
Beach umbrellas open like blue-and-white-striped eyes.
Some people trust their skin to the sun.
They lazily rotate on a spit of blankets.
The ice-cream kiosk opens its window.
A line of children form.
Two parrots squawk from within its walls.
Waves roll back and forth
between the spindly legs of sanderlings.
Pelicans adorn the rocks.
Crabs wallow in tidepools.
A few swim.
Two children build a fortress out of sand.
I’m neither a sunbather, an ice-cream lover,
a swimmer or a sculptor.
But I stroll the beach,
empty my head of days gone by,
fill it with nothingness.
The shoreline caters for myriad needs.
Even I am accommodated.



John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Stand, Washington Square Review and Rathalla Review. Latest books, “Covert” “Memory Outside The Head” and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in the McNeese Review, Santa Fe Literary Review and Open Ceilings.


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