Three Poems

by John Gray

THE IDES OF FALL

It’s not the same sun
that sears the skin in Summer.
No blistering.
No peeling.
No red blotches up and down the legs.

It’s flatter in the sky,
lacks confidence
in its touch
though that warmth
in my face and hands
is welcome.

I walk the usual trails
but the greenness
is slowly seeping out of everything.
That color is left to the pines
and they’re more prudent with it,
not flamboyant like the oaks and maples.

The reds, the oranges,
are in there somewhere,
ready to burst,
to be more like the sun
than the sun itself.

It’s mid-October.
Nothing is what it was.
Nothing is what it will be.
The sun sets early.
It was pleasant enough.
More recondite than I’m used to.

A STRAIGHT-AHEAD LOVE POEM

Love is
the foliage that remains
once the trees of knowledge
and good sense are cut down –
it bears such pleasurable fruit.

Love is
also a wish to love,
a reason for putting off death
for as long
as the possibility of it
or, better yet,
the attainment of it
exists.

Love is
not necessarily a reward
for all the good
a person has done –
it’s more about
preparation, trifles,
opportunity, risk,
and a selfishness
that masks itself
as selflessness.

Love is
not a cure
for physical pain
but it can do wonders
for ennui.

Love is
in keeping with
the sunnier aspects of nature
and, in its presence,
passion’s precipitous descent
is slowed.

Love is
for most of us
the best a mortal can offer
immortality.

Love is
not magic per se,
but there’s often
some transformation,
transportation,
even the occasional levitation
involved.

Love is
capable of encompassing
all incidents,
every circumstance,
that involve two people
or even the one.

Love is
typically pleasant,
friendly and agreeable
once it’s done
setting hearts racing.

Love is
most of all
a remedy
for a life
that would otherwise
live less well without it.

HOLOCAUST

They lived in a valley, fertile enough for their needs,
which involved the occasional plucking
of a piece of fruit from a tree.
They grew nothing. They bred nothing.

They were stunted, ugly, rickety folks with gray curly hair
and an inbred laziness.
Blood dawdled through their veins, never at a pace
enough for slight aggravation, let alone anger.

There was no hate. And nothing that amounted to a quarrel.
People died of neglect from time to time.
Mostly the old and the very young.
The ground swallowed their remains eventually.
Nobody ever had the strength for burial.

No robberies of course. No one had anything worth having.
And hate was too much like hard work.
When the invaders came, none put up a fight.
Death, as explained by bayonet and bullet,
seemed reasonable enough.
It put an end to the bother of getting up in the morning.

So when they vanished from the earth,
nobody mourned them.
In fact, they would have been forgotten altogether
if it weren’t for the historians,
the ones who bring you the above.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Homestead Review, Harpur Palate and Columbia Review with work upcoming in the Roanoke Review, the Hawaii Review and North Dakota Quarterly.
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