Three Poems: Its Features, Life, Ho, and One End of a Phone Conversation

Its Features

It was as ugly as its parents’ sins
and they were real ugly.
It got its mismatched eyes
from a father’s cussing
and twisted lip out of
a mother’s behind-the-hand
malicious gossip.

The ears were cauliflower.
a direct descendent of
a man’s vicious drunken punches.
And the skin was as scaly
as the alligator pocket book
that woman stole.

A large head
was born of cheating
with the vinyl siding salesman
and writing bad checks
and unemployment fraud
and a swift kick
to a homeless man under a bridge.

People said it looked
like this one or that one,
that it had the family cruelty,
the crass and lazy DNA.

Folks didn’t know
whether to pat its head
and vomit
or go straight back
to their grubby dens
and make one of their own.



Life, Ho

the boy’s been missing
for over a week now

and the wars
in various places on the globe
show no signs of ending

I’m beginning to believe in vampires
but politicians…not so much

I’m angry at just about anything –
even the old man
tossing the ashes of his wife
into their favorite pond

and burnt-out houses
and beggars
and most technology

the weather
with all its thunder and lightning
is the worst kind of moralist

and I keep wondering
why the nuclear family
don’t just drop the big one

I have finally reached a conclusion
on the value of human capital
but it’s not one you would want to hear

I hope they find the boy safe –
don’t get me wrong –
but what if he’s the one
who starts the next war?
what if he grows up to be a vampire?
or a politician?
or the guy who can’t just stick
his dead loved one in the ground
and be done with it?

that’s his mother on the television –
she says she’s sorry
to put me to all this trouble



One End of a Phone Conversation

Yes, that’s what I’d call an arrangement.
And I dream of being behind prison bars occasionally.
And yes, I have begun
to be afraid of thunderstorms.
Besides, I’m already there.
So don’t keep your distance.
Did you understand that as well?
Find yourself a new guy.
Or a hummable song
you didn’t know you knew.
Yes I do get it.
But I don’t know how much more I can take.
I don’t want to have to fetch
you from the ER again.
I live my life out of the way of others when I can.
Yes, I’m still mourning.
How I wish I could kick this habit
of seeing ghosts.
Some people come to mind
like bridges come to rivers.
I just know life will kill me
if I don’t kill it first.
Keep up the spirit.
Maybe you’ll make out, in the end,
even better than your sister.
I’m beginning to think
the CIA is behind it all.
Myself, I’m going to yoga classes.
Anything just so as to accomplish something.
Like moving to Boston.
Or planting a garden.
To be honest, we two were never an item.
Just like you and Jermaine.
True enough, we’ve never been given much.
That’s why we have so little.
The one thing I learned from my parents
is that there’s better things to do
than watch your dad die.
Even if he did drown your cat.


John 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 the Coe Review.

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