John Grey

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Painting by Gene McCormick

My Timeout

I’m going one way, city traffic the other.
Through the tunnel, lights come at me
like bright red insects
but they dare not cross over into the path I’m taking.
Twenty minutes later,
I’m beyond the point where these commuters live,
past the few farms,
stragglers from the early twentieth century,
and into the forest, the hills, the lakes, the rivers.

I walk a trail of oaks and pines and elms,
a fluttering sea of ferns.
I sit on a rock by an ambling, candent stream.
I observe the abundant, fascinating wildlife.
And I breathe in air filtered clean by foliage.

I live in the suburbs.
I conduct the city’s business.
But, now and then,
I need to be some place
that I can praise.

Painting by Gene McCormick

The Regrets

Regret the pickup lines,
the sweat,
the broken wrist.
the one I lost all those years ago,
the razing of the wheat field
for a strip mall,
the polluted, molasses-colored stream,
the last concert I ever gave,
the favorite tooth that will never again
grace a smile,
how I can barely hold my breath underwater
the total lack of young woman
with swishing pony-tails,
birth marks doubling as death marks,
failing the Trig test,
spilling the soft-serve ice-cream,
buying her the bracelet
which was just like one
she had already,
my one attempt at playing soccer goalie
when the other team scored six goals on me,
the sunburns,
the ridiculous hair shades,
the lack of concentration,
the debts,
the excuses,
in fact, just about everything –
I even regret making this list –
but when has regret ever stopped me?


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Penumbra, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, Leaves On Pages and Memory Outside The Head are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Lana Turner and International Poetry Review.