Three Poems by John Grey

In the Giving

I gave Rita the alpaca blanket,
wrapped in it Christmas green and red,
with a bright gold bow and a card that read,
“With all my love.”
It was either that or store it in the attic
with all the other useless knick-knacks, white elephants,
hokey souvenirs and, especially, unwanted gifts.
Yes, it did come with all my love
but also with all my practicality as well.
I bought it at an open house
at an exotic animal farm.
I even met and fed the beast that donated its wool.
And I thought, “Wow, I can really use this.”
Of course, I had no earthly use for it.
And, chances are, Rita will find it equally useless
despite her rush of “Thank you’’’s,
and kisses on both cheeks.
“It’s real alpaca,” I informed her
as if that would compensate
for one more item
she would stuff inside an attic trunk.
Or worse, rewrap and bestow on someone else.
It reminds me of the diamond-with-the-curse
in the old horror stories.
Terrible things happen to those
who have it in their possession
so best pass it along.
Or it’s like a chain letter.
The person at the end,
without another friend to send it to,
must live with its consequences.
No, it’s just more proof to the old adage,
“It’s better to give than to receive.”
The tide if the worthlessness is stemmed that way.


News from the Fishing Village

The pier is rickety, planked dull,
but sturdy for all that,
like the men who duel the open sea,
harvest oceans.

The structure survives like an old world,
Levantine memories swirled by
American anxieties,
played by an orchestra of sharp knives, gutted fish.

Fisherman haul in nets
like they’re trying to haul in Europe
from its resplendent resting place.
Flapping cod and hake will have to do.

Still, there’s restlessness outside the chop
of boat on water,
migratory birds of the young,
with hostile breaks and wings.

But windows fog near term memory,
Foam crests on wave
like hedges of flowering myrtle,
a corsage pinned to twilight.

So what if your daughter wears your lipstick,
your son can only say, “enough’s enough.”
Your husband calls your name…Maria!
Sound slithers through the moist lips of a kiss.
A net full of love sieves its sadness.


When I’m Senseless

Now I know
what they mean by
too close for comfort.
I can’t breathe
Without getting a dose
of her air into my lungs.
Everything I smell
is dosed in her perfume.
I can’t taste my food
because her lips
take precedence.
What I touch
is indifferent because
it’s not her
and mesmerizing
because it is.
And do I really hear anything
that isn’t her whispering
my name?
My senses have been hijacked
But she’s not asking
for any ransom money.
Well maybe she will
twenty years from now.
And then we’ll leave that
to the lawyers.

John Grey