Poetry by John Grey: Drama and its Queen and A Cross-County Runner Turns 40


There is a drama
to ordinary everyday events.
So what about the rites of passage?
The life-changing?

It’s hard enough
to hold down
the tension, the emotion.
blood and thunder,
in a faulty zipper
or an inadvertent sneeze.

She’s been battered by weather,
uplifted by a correct math answer,
immersed herself in the melodrama
of choosing a color to go with her eyes.

Her hands are cold – visceral.
On come the gloves – sentient.
A bug is annoying her – histrionics.
Then comes one fervent slap
and that creature is dead for all time.

And now a boy kisses her.
A swell of violins. The pounding of drums.
But that was for the face in the mirror,
the comb, the brush of lipstick,
the clicking shut of a purse.

She awaits a feeling
so stupendous, so profound,
it’s never been experienced
by anybody anywhere at any time.

“Is that it? she asks herself.
Grave disappointment
overwhelms her, sucks
the room dry of sense and sound.
It’s so quiet, you can hear a pin drop.
It reminds her of that disturbing,
almost cataclysmic time
when a pin did drop.



This is the cross-country track
where I ran and ran and ran
until I shrunk my stomach
lean as a drum head,
and my legs thinned to the shape
of wine bottle stems.

If my heart demanded hills
then I gave them to it.
Or if it longed for
the easy lope of
long flat stretches
then I scurried over fields.

I was fit enough to fly back then.
Ten miles of hard slog
in ninety minutes or so.
Now, I can’t run to save myself
But look at that guy
hightailing it toward the horizon.
That’s me remembering.

John Grey
John Grey 

John Grey is an Australian poet and U.S. resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, South Carolina Review, Gargoyle, and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Cape Rock and Spoon River Poetry Review.