Three Poems

by John Grey

Julie’s Early Morning Ride

One night, Julie
was awoken near dawn
by her mother
who was opening her
dresser drawers
and stuffing the contents
into a suitcase.
Whatever was left over
was squashed into
Julie’s backpack,
in between her schoolbooks.

It was a shock to Julie.
For the first time,
her mother’s presence
in her room
felt like an intrusion.

But then she lifted
the child out of the bed
and Julie was too shocked
to do anything
but pretend sleep.

She fell back to sleep
for real
on the soft vinyl
of the sedan’s passenger seat
as it drove away into the waking day.

Julie never saw the note
her mother left
on her father’s bedside table.
It just said,
“I’ve had enough.”
Julie hadn’t had enough,
not by a long way.
But she went along with it.
At fifty miles an hour,
she had no choice.

Dictator At Home

The balance between dictatorship
and a normal home life
has become more like a merger.
In fact, they are indistinguishable.
I treat my wife, my children,
like followers
Surprisingly, they go along with it.
Strict obedience
is reassuring, comforting,
to young and old.
Besides, any sign of faltering
and the culprit is
bullied back in line.
My youngest once confessed
to me that he felt lost,
almost invisible,
until I fitted him with a uniform
and slipped them membership card
in the top pocket.
I slapped him heartily on the back.
“Let that be the last time
you confess to anything,” I said.

Another Day in the Coffee-House

I’m surrounded by techno.
Young people sip I-phones,
nibble on laptops.
I’m a regular coffee guy
with an occasional splurge
for a hot-buttered muffin.
They devour texts.
I read the newspaper
or a book.
They make me feel old,
or a Luddite.
I even pay with cash.
The register drawer
creaks open
like a dying man’s breath.

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 North Dakota Quarterly.



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