Back in the Long Ago Day


The cave faces the west,

away from the bitter east wind.

Only one entrance,

so easy to guard,

but welcoming of light and sun,

protecting from the ravages of weather.

Inside we are secure and warm,

calmed by our own company.

But outside lurks danger,

demonic shapes that inhabit

the realms of darkness.

And one of us,

with a stone,

sketches monstrous shapes

on the wall.

It’s what he imagines

these creatures to look like.

It’s rudimentary art,

but advanced psychosis.


The Perils of an Ocean-Going Rodent


Surely, it’s not just a storm

but some great beast

gathering in the sky.


Out at sea,

we must seem easy prey

to something

that is so huge,

I cannot tell

where it begins or where it ends.


The first mate shrugs his shoulders.

He says he’s seen the like before.

The crew just go about their business,

manning sails, tightening ropes,

fastening everything down.


Even the captain, in the wheelhouse,

is as calm as a dead sea,

as he scans his maps,

plots his course as if it is other

than straight down.


I should never have scurried

aboard this ship.

But I was seduced by bags of grain.


What happens when that monster

crushes this vessel in its foul hands,

and everything on board

falls into the roiling ocean?


I can’t swim.

And there’s no life preserver for me.


I’ve heard that tale

of rats deserting sinking ships.

But the story always ends there.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Soundings East, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty with work upcoming in West Trade Review, Willard and Maple and Connecticut River Review.