Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

The Arrest and Other Poems – John Grey

Dec 17, 2021 | Poetry | 0 comments

The Arrest

A cop, who was in Duane’s class at school,
stood in the driveway,
calling him my name.

“Step out onto the porch,” the cop said,
“and with your hands up.”

It was summer and hot
and he could see the face
of Duane’s mother
through parted curtains
at her bedroom window.
“Why don’t you leave him alone!” she screamed.

The cop knew what Duane was
and what’d he done.
The mother just remembered the boy.
Not the one in the kitchen trembling
casing possible escape roots.
To her, whatever he did wrong,
he did it long before.

Duane was younger then.
She was less gray than the woman
whose raucous voice
didn’t bother the cop one bit.

The charge wasn’t
that he left his bike out in the rain.
His mother wasn’t defending him
to his father
for bad school reports.

And the cop
was no longer the kid in his class
who talked of being a doctor
like his old man.

So, out of options,
time stepped out on the porch
with its hands up.

It didn’t make a move.
Except to tick forward.



I can’t imagine
being Einstein,
with all of time,
all of the universe,
filling up his brain,
leaving no place
for a healthy diet,
clean and steam-ironed shirts,
a decent razor
and a comb.

With all that brilliance,
the mundane wouldn’t even get a look-in.
And what of feelings?
Was Mrs. Einstein
a true presence in his life
or merely something
fluttering dimly
on the curve of space,
as he rushed to prove
E=MC squared?

I’m happy enough
with the balance I’ve achieved,
enough intellectual quandaries
to stimulate the ganglion
but many hours devoted to,
not just empathy toward my fellow humans,
but the small things that need doing.
I’ve even been known
to play a game of pool.
And for fun,
gladly setting aside the physics
of elastic collisions and kinetic energy.

The mind and the heart –
it’s all relative.
But not relativity.
Energy and mass
may well be equivalent and transmutable.
But they don’t have your eyes.
They can’t clean this nasty toilet bowl.


Death of a Second-hand Car Salesman

The river crashes through the dam wall,
shoves its weakling banks aside,
and it’s the very last time
the salesman at Vic’s Second Hand Motors
is ever heard from.
And those that never liked the guy
are even feeling sad about it.

For all the great wall of water
that rolled down Main Street,
he was the only one who couldn’t
get out of the way in time.
Even the arthritic seniors
in the park made it to higher ground.
And the dogs escaped.
Someone even rescued a floating
canary in a cage.

And here’s a guy
that most thought crooked and slimy
and wouldn’t trust
as far as they could throw
the dodgy cars he peddled.

And there’s tears
in the eyes
of just about everybody.
There’s even talk
about how much they’ll miss him.

Death has always been the great equalizer.
But now it’s also the great purifier.
They bury a good guy.
The sympathetic mourn.
Death’s even got
this second hand Acura,
in perfect condition,
one owner, a little old lady,
going for a song.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, “Leaves On Pages” “Memory Outside The Head” and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Ellipsis and Blueline.


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