A Poetry Showcase from John Grey

photo from unsplash

THE SHIP-LOVER

I love ships. I love true super liners.
I love all thirty-one thousand tons of the Lusitania.
I love its four funnels, steam turbines, 
that quadruple screw, the 25 knots at which
it traverses the water.

I love the Vestris though it’s only a single-stacker.
And the Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft
because its someone’s name, 
a name I would be proud to bear 
if I was making the Amsterdam-East Indies connection.

Of course, I love the L’Atlantique
because it sounds as French as coq vin and Andre Gide. 
It’s a dreamboat with insides that can’t decide
whether they’re Art Nouveau or Art Deco.
I just love dubiety in a ship.

I even love the President Hoover 
though Hoover himself is tough to like.
And the Paris…ah the Paris…
Moroccan décor, such fancy glass and metalwork…
if she was a woman I’d…but she is a woman.

And the Empress of Britain –
glamor and the Brits, 
an unheard-of combination and yet…
And give me the Bremen any day,
though it started out working for the other side.

I love the Viceroy of India – so exotic.
The Rex – those Italians sure do know how to
concoct a lido.
And the Empress of Canada, a little cold at first,
but eventually as warm and comforting 
as anything out there with a twin screw.

And then there’s the Andrea Doria.
I simply love the Andrea Doria.
If I ever met someone called Andrea Doria,
I’d propose on the spot.

And just because every time, I said her name
it would conjure up visions 
of her graceful lines, exquisite shape, 
and so smooth glide across oceans.

And yet all of my loves are dead.
Some blown up in warfare.
Others destroyed by fire 
or wrecked in a collision.
They lie on the seabed
or have long been scrapped,
their parts reused or discarded.

But I still love to stand 
atop the Newport cliffs
and look out to where 
my refined and nimble, 
elegant and exquisite lovers run.
I do not love death.
But I love whatever it has to show me.


THE CIGARETTE SMOKER

There was a time
he lit a cigarette  
the moment his eyes opened.
Before coffee.
Before shaving.
Before his shower.

He’d totter downstairs
trailing that tiny glow,
his face a cloud of smoke.
He’d puff between sips of java.
The razor would have to cut its way
around the dangling Camel.
He didn’t smoke in the shower
but there was always a lit one waiting 
on the sink.

He’d smoke in the car 
on the way to work.
Even in speeding traffic on the highway,
he’d find a way to light another.  
Butts littered the floor.
Ash dropped like fall leaves on his shoe. 

His hands, his teeth,
boasted a permanent yellow stain.
But he never shook hands, never smiled.
He was too busy getting his nicotine fix.

He smoked during meals.
He smoked watching television.
He smoked just before bed.
He even smoked in bed,
singed his lip more than once.

In hospital, 
he had to sneak a cigarette.
When that didn’t work,
he puffed on the tube in his mouth
and imagined.
On his last day,
he begged the nurse 
for one more cancer stick,
the first time he had ever used that term.

SOMEONE JUMPS FROM THE BRIDGE


The moon lurks high above the town.
Its indifference is a thing of wonder.
It saw the boy leap but after that…nothing.

The woman with her apartment window wide open
only thought she heard something.
A guy working late in his fish store 
figured it was some louts dumping garbage.

The surface has settled back to stillness.
Trees stand tall, even in shadow,
prime examples of long-lived lives.
Only the willow droops in sympathy.

The moon settles into a slow arc,
dispenses scattered light
that illuminates the bridge, darkens the waters.

USUAL HEADLINES

Another climber dead on Denali.
So the highest is the deadliest.
Mist lifts.
Mountain emerges.
For a moment I can feel
the lofty aspirations.
Don't try for that summit
and you may as well
be a convenience store clerk
in Anchorage.
The vista may be heaven
but the story is human.
Had to do it, planned for weeks,
nothing would stop him.
Lost his grip, fell from a ledge,
took a week to retrieve his body.
The news is stunted
like tundra spruce,
the implication as long as the days.
There's a risk
even to paradise.
Bui the death's more certain
in what might have been.

MY MOTHER WORKED IN A CANTEEN


she brought home
folded cash
in an envelope

every note 
carefully allotted
for food or rent
or utilities

with a few coins
tossed my way
for pocket money –

she never held
a check in her hand

I never paid 
for anything
with paper –

we were poor –

we had the money
to prove it


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

By davidlonan1

David writes poetry, short stories, and writings that'll make you think or laugh, provoking you to examine images in your mind. To submit poetry, photography, art, please send to feversofthemind@gmail.com. Twitter: @davidLOnan1 + @feversof Facebook: DavidLONan1

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