In My Room Of All Places
Imagine me, shivering with fright,
heart plunging down into my stomach,
with my bare body wrapped in blankets
and my feet crying out for wool sox.
All in aid of this dancing in the dark,
and I’m no dancer, just a young man
disturbed by the heave of human bodies,
one atop the other.
Oh my god, I’m thinking.
Should I close my eyes or turn the light on?
It’s the in-between state
that sets the dogs to barking.
I fall away from you, lie still,
listen to my blood pumping
its relay from head to toe,
in this room more known for sleeping
than any physical activity,
in what seems to have taken on
some of the qualities of Nirvana,
and some surely of Bosch’s hell.
The dark used to scare me.
I cried and reached up with a grasp
far short of the switch.
Now it’s my only friend
as I watch as much of you as I can,
get up, slip into the bathroom.
The sheets feel sticky.
Something’s blinking at me.
Must be the cat.
And a kind of twisted pride
that it’s in the know.
Sure I’m in over my head.
But at least I’m humming to myself.
Then silence returns
with a sudden thump of the mattress,
the jingle jangle of wires below.
The bed returns to creaking and squeaking.
The hedonistic moon peers in.
It urges me to step naked into its white beam.
As if a star is born.
And didn’t just explode untimely.
No, I won’t attend the bullring
though this is Spain
and the crowds move inevitably
in the direction of the arena,
carry me along
for all my trying to go in the opposite direction.
I’ve no wish to see El Toro
teased, bullied and ultimately killed.
The sight of blood is not for me.
And nor is the smell of it.
Likewise the cries of “Ole”
and the incessant castanets.
Even the ladies are headed there,
necks bathed in shawls,
fans at the ready,
gold crucifixes swaying in their necks.
All that’s missing
are a pair of carbines
and a bullet belt.
I need to escape the gaudiness,
posters blazing like campfires,
blooming in the bowers of death.
Sure I’m here to embrace the local customs,
and there’s nothing more local, as customary,
as the matador driving his sword
into the belly of the bull.
But I am local within myself.
And I have these customs
that define who I am.
They do not include senseless bloodshed,
nor the thrusting points
of the eyes of the crowd.
Hanging Out In The Hospital
That’s the woman
I want –
the nurse gripping tight
to the hand of the dying man.
I’ve had enough
of the ones who live
only for themselves.
on the bone,
caring with an expression to match.
She almost makes me wish
I was lying in that bed,
the life oozing out of me,
one more tamping of my light away.
But here I am
whining about how many more years
I have upon this earth.
So I don’t blame you, lover,
if that doctor catches your eye.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Evening Street Review and Columbia Review, with work upcoming in Harpur Palate, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.