Two Poems by John Grey

Dear Lisa from Somewhere in My Evolution

Yes I was an ant in a previous life:
a brief crawl from the nest
and then a brutal stomping.

But not into oblivion —
not when I had wings
and could fly about
a kitchen until swatted.

Even then,
there was more of me in store.
I still say butterfly
though some may call me moth.

And then I was an actual marsupial,
followed by a big cat
and a bear, I believe.
There’s a growl deep within me
like you wouldn’t believe.

I became human
around about the time of Henry VIII.
I say let a man marry
whom he wishes.
And I fought battles —
Crimea, Boer War —
but you know I can’t remember, for the death of me,
whose side I was on.

I’ve not been anyone famous.
I expect the great leaders, classic authors,
painters, musicians etc.
are fast-tracked through a different route.

I just go on one life at a time,
a little more sentient,
more knowledgeable
and hopefully more likeable
with every new version of myself.

So when you say you love me,
do you mean all or just this instance?



These Shapes of Things

I would prefer that the earth
not be so round.
I like that idea
of the flat world
held up by pillars,
or the shoulders
of a giant,
or the tough shell
of a vast tortoise.
I hate the fact
that every journey
is toward where I’m coming from,
that the one I’ll meet,
just over the horizon’s horizon,
could very well be me.
I’m at the point
where I’d rather just
tumble off the edge of this life
than repeat it.
It’s morning,
a new day, supposedly.
But I know where it’s been.



JOHN GREY is an Australian poet and US resident. His work has recently been published in The Columbia Review, Homestead Review and Poetry East, and is forthcoming in Harpur Palate, Hawai‘i Review and Visions International.


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