Two poems by John Grey

The Porch at Sunset

In a sunset, I tell myself it's
light that matters, the light shining
here casting its superiority over
roses, oak trees, earth and rock,
that cannot withstand the unknown message,
their textures to unfelt reverberations,
unseen harmonies.

From the porch, I see everything gathered in
by shadow, but the dim moon, a world made
secret at my door step. And yet the dark cannot
quite have me, not with my lamp and my book,
as if I have something left to give, despite the
ache in my ankles, the gilded blue of my heart,
the sheer bulk of yours behind me.

Eventually, the night will have me.
Eventually, my life which seems so ordered
with this production line of pain and remembering
will be shown up for the disorder it truly is.
Sure, there were nights from which I emerged
so immaculately certain of myself and my place
but this oncoming one… who knows? Who wants to know?

Those were the nights that shrewdly showed me dreams,
that carefully blueprinted tomorrow
with wealth and honor and lush ladies in my arms.
But what of the dull matrix of the next dream?
It will be a pit for thoughts to fall into and
stare up pointlessly at the head that engineered them.
There'll be no glamorous youth stepping shiny
from the ocean at this rear-end of the cosmic plan.

The night is full-blown now.
I cling to the light, devour its pages while
pretending to read the book.
Once this light would have seemed enough,
would have matched the disappearing sun glow for the glow
and stood so staunchly by its followers.

Now, it's one cold switch away from dousing.
I look out at the world, each night
an accumulation of all the nights I've lived,
black, blacker and blacker still,
and wonder where is the cold, cold switch
these fingers tremble for.

Forgetting the Name of the First Girl I Kissed

I was in the center of the city
but its only lights
seemed far away.
I was with her and yet, she too,
surrendered her shape
as easily as trees and bushes,
as warehouses and shops.
I was in the city
yet looking down on it.
I was with her
but a thousand miles away.
It was night and its self-parody,
wallowing, side by side,
in their own shared shadow.
Windows which had always been blue
now seemed so purposefully black.
I felt a drop or two
of rain on my face,
a whisk of wind under my chain.
So many sources of touch
and her teenage arms
wrapping around me.
I was grinning like a beast
in the forest
Her lips were soft and wet,
jiggled like grasshoppers
before settling into the shape of mine.
I kissed her, but as I closed
my eyes to drain the blood of
all of sixteen years down into my limbs,
I could only see myself.
She could have been anyone.
She could have been an advertising sign,
a mailbox, the window of a store.
I felt a long way away from her
and infinitely superior.
The fluttering of her eyes afterward
was so detached yet flattering,
like someone waking me up
from a deep sleep
to tell me the details
of how I had saved
all of mankind
from ever remembering her.

John Grey