Dirk's in Harvard
polishing the garden of glass flowers.
Careful not to break the chrysanthemum, Dirk.
watch out for that crystal bee.
But imagine drinking martinis
right from the rose's mouth.
His girlfriend Jane is in the mountains
of Northwest Kashmir,
some university project,
to transcribe the Burushaski language,
spoken by so few,
never written down until now.
They're making love across the miles of course.
Dirk has found a perfect stem fork...Jane's vagina.
Jane is carefully notating phonetically
the Burushaski word for penis.
And then there's Dirk's "Wow!",
Jane's predilection for this or any exotica.
A feather bed of learning and ambition.
An ocean for a wet spot.
Some guy who thought he was maybe a month or two
from home got brainwashed by the Foehn, that
old witch wind, up in the Swiss Alps. Skis couldn't
save him from nausea, drooping eyelids, dizziness
and blood pressure blowing high and low.
Farmer said his cows had stopped giving milk.
Factory in the valley lost two men to falls
into the machinery. A man's jailed for brutally
beating his wife. First murder in the canton in years.
This is the guy who said, see you when I get there,
who carved your name in the snow, blew the
Alpine horn on your behalf, laughed off all
those guys who don't go anywhere, who well
know the departure points of his restlessness and theirs.
He was going to bring Lucerne and Berne and
the Dammastock home with him, drop them on your doorstep.
Sorry. Blame it on the Foehn. Or if the net casts wider,
the Eiffel Tower, the Hermitage, the Danube, Berlin, Greece,
the Sistine Chapel...all aiding and abetting this irreversible wind.
It was see Europe then marry you.
But, instead, it was the Foehn...he saw you in it,
I was an ant for all of a day,
a fish for...
but what is light and dark underwater?
Until the hour of the shark shall we say.
Back on land, I was a frog
(still with one foot in the water)
but I measured time in lily-pads...
a thousand I counted
before a boy trapped me,
stuck a fire-cracker down my throat.
From splat to echidna...
And then antelope to lion
to rhino to elephant...
a progression in size,
was mix and match.
I became human and smart enough
in the latter half of the nineteenth century,
in time to read and understand "War And Peace"
though I died before I finished the novel.
I was killed on the front line
in the First World War,
my still unfinished edition of Tolstoy
splattered with my blood.
I was too young for the Second World War,
but I dropped both bundle and book
somewhere in the Vietnamese jungle
when the sniper hit.
In my current life, I have "War And Peace" on MP3
but someone broke in and stole my player.
In my future is someone who knows
how it all turns out in the end.
It could be peace
but I'm thinking war.
© John Grey
John Grey is an Australian born poet, works as financial systems analyst. Recently published in International Poetry Review, Chrysalis and the science fiction anthology, Futuredaze, with work upcoming in Potomac Review, Sanskrit and Osiris.