Friday, March 18, 2016

Three Poems by John Grey

Birds at the Feeder

Birds gather at the feeder
during the short days of February,
mostly brown, some gray,
and occasionally the striking blue
of the chatty jay and the
cardinal's blood red.
They peck at sunflower seeds
or the mix in a tray.
Woodpeckers cling to suet cages,
drilling the good white fat,
black and white but
for the red dot on the forehead,
like an Indian bindi.
Doves poke and plod
at ground level,
among the husks,
the unintentional spill,
their slate heads bobbing
like old men agreeing
with what they do not understand.
Sometimes, a stranger alights,
a grosbeak, a towhee,
even an escaped cage bird,
passing through
but, like all the others,
leaving something of themselves
with our eager faces at the window.
It's winter, far from summer's bounty,
and we can't help being in their lives more.
But they pay us no attention.
Survival is too busy to give thanks.

The Eel Run

Flesh passes beneath me
in a slither of eels
or a skeleton does for skin
in the cockeyed creep of a crab.

Water flows as peace
but beneath the surface
my hands are at war
with the wildlife.

They slip through my fingers.
They bury themselves out of reach.
Then the stream calms.
My hand comes to nothing.

A tanager alights on a branch
where I cannot reach it.
A rabbit skitters away
at speeds beyond me.

Time to go home,
hug wife and children.
A good haul when
it's my own kind running.

Eye on the Shore

As above, so below.
on the surface of a lake.
matter makes good on its reflection.
The sun is twinned.
Mountains drift out as far as they are high.
My two faces keep to themselves
as I lean over from the bank,
take in a pebble, a darting fish,
a hundred frog leaps.

Looking up.
I arrange the prospect outward.
On an overhanging bough.
four turtles bask in order by size.
In far shore mud,
an egret marks the tracking of time.
In the marsh grass,
dragonflies snaffle mosquitoes.

The eye too is a lake itself small and placid.
The eye, with light at the helm,
floats serenely in its socket.
It does not go out into the world.
The scenery comes to it,
makes a finer sphere, interior.
In its watery humors,
anything can be represented.
But only the eye
chooses what is contemplated.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident.  Recently published in New Plains Review, Perceptions and Sanskrit with work upcoming in Big Muddy Review, Gargoyle, Coal City Review and the Coe Review.


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