A PROVIDENCE NIGHT
The city suffers from the bipolar neuron,
as just when emptiness fills the sky
atop the office towers, stars ignite –
all Providence glows
from constellations, real and manufactured,
threads of headlights, flashing wares
of steak houses, floor to sky hotels –
I am a low-key astronomer.
Commuters amble toward parking lots,
clubbers take their place,
neon wages its war of independence with the galaxy,
wants all of the city for its own.
So here’s the people, already in their dance,
some lined up in the bulb spray
of the Performing Arts Center’s marquee,
others decoding side street graffiti.
A woman on Washington
sways her braided crown,
stamps her legs like fetlocks
in anger at her fancy man.
She heads one way, he another.
I stop and then move on.
The bars, the clubs await the flies, the lizards,
and maybe, just maybe, an angel or two.
The air becomes bifocal,
one view, the spectra of night
the other, brilliant gold
to make the dark seem safer.
The city opens and shuts,
streets stretch wide then narrow.,
the inferno is bright when its not deep black,
the gutter shuns and beckons.
Stray cats, I can sense them
slip away to deeper alleys,
hide behind trashcans,
figure our kind never leave.
IN TIMES OF VIOLENCE
When the inmates got rowdy
in the shower,
thumped rivals against cement walls,
or dropped them to the floor,
kicked their teeth into
bloody swirls for good measure,
and the guards stood by,
hands pressed against their truncheons
like they were Colt 45’s,
the one who read books silently
in his cell said and did nothing.
But he remembered a page
from Thomas Malory
or was it Tolstoy.
No it was Robert Burns.
“Man’s inhumanity to man
makes countless thousands mourn”
though, in this case, it was just the one.
But then he remembered
what it was he was in for.
A CHEMO TALE
I do not know how to explain chemo properly.
On inhibiting mitosis, I can barely converse.
Besides, the discomfort has a great dislike
of being interrupted. I prefer solitude if you must know.
So my body disintegrates but my tongue does not loosen.
My motto is why say anything
when there is no way of knowing what to say.
Everything is changing from moment to moment anyhow.
The point of sickness is that no one can have an opinion.
Skepticism is wisdom. Positivity is just foreshadowing.
So I am sitting by the window looking out at people parking cars.
How smoothly they fit their vehicles between the lines.
Ah, if only that were medicine.
© John Grey
Bio: John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Homestead Review, Poetry East and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Harpur Palate, the Hawaii Review and Visions International.