John Grey



All the way down the coast road,
I braced myself for disappointment.
Oceancliff was now condominiums.
How matter of fact, Roger said it.
Only four, he added. As if that somehow that
made the whole idea less stomach churning.
And the view as well? Was it cut neatly into four?

So whereís Havens, the owner,
eighty seven when I left and still scrambling
down the rocks with fishing tackle and creel.
Or sitting on his long veranda,
reading poetry, Masefield, his favorite.
Talk to him about the house and it was
like he was describing the issue of his loins.
Stone towers, conical roofs, the port-cochere...
fine offspring for a man who never married.

That house was a manís mind more than anything.
And now the brain surgeons have moved in with their
fancy blueprints, hectoring slide-rules.
Four condominiums. Four families, couples most likely.
Uproot the smoking room, install another kitchen.
And a third in the loggia and a fourth in the library.
I wonder what happened to his Conrad first editions?
Strange how a house just big enough for one man
has to be shrunk down to size to make room enough for eight.

I can only stand and watch for so long.., carpenters adding
final touches, the glad-handing sellers and their money-bag clients.
Best go to a bar, get slightly drunk, be out of it.
Canít get over what some loudmouth in a blue suit
kept shouting to the builders.
ďThe weather-vane stays.Ē
They need it for an advertising logo, apparently.
They already know which way the wind is blowing.


Today I am out to destroy.
Bull thistle interrupts the sameness of my lawn.
Here and there, crabgrass is m the ascendancy.
Likewise, horseweed, daily fleabane and good old spotted Joe.

Some blooms dare me to open fire.
Weíre all of us battle-hardened veterans of a ceaseless war.
Stalks stand straight up, brandish thorns.
Others overrun the brittle truce with color.

Iím not a soldier to be swayed.
And Iíve more poisons at hand than any Borgia.
No hot and sweaty digging them up by the roots.
I go for the kill, with bottle and spray.

Iíve death enough in my hands to wipe out birds,
rodents, even trees and larger mammals.
What chance do the puffy red heads stand?
Whatís a lanceolate leaf to do when the blitz begins?

But theyíre not dead, despite their fallen centers,
the wilting spread of brown decay.
The wretched petals, drooping stamens...
itís just retreat masked as rampant razing.

Next year, theyíre back, and the next, the next.
Iím the one the years are slowly poisoning.
My bud cancers. My blossoms putrefy.
Iím the weed in this yard we share.


Piney air,
windswept wild weed air,
make that flutter
buckthorn, sumac air,
lake ripple air,
bristle the coat of black bear air,
and not forgetting
scatter the seed of beach rose air,
and tickle the snout
of the otter air,
or languid, blackened,
willow shade air.
All the airs,
none of my graces.

Copyright © 2011 John Grey


John Grey is an Australian born poet, and a US resident since the late seventies. He works as a financial systems analyst. His work has been recently published in Poem, Kestrel and Writerís Bloc. Upcoming work will appear in Caveat Lector, Prism International and the Cider Press Review.