Monday, August 31, 2009
This month features John Grey and Daniel Seifert
What has unearthly ever done for me?
The cow in the rain, its brown bulk
ghostly through gray, is still a cow,
head low as a comma, chewing wet grass,
sucking it down into its many stomachs.
The rickety sounds of night are no better.
Floorboards creak, windows rattle,
but no phantoms put in an appearance.
Sure, my nerves are on the lookout
for the merest signal from the ether
but, in the sorry end, the night is just
blankets and sheets, soft pillows and
soulless dreams. Even if the piano in
the parlor began playing on its own,
I wouldn’t go looking. Or if owls
hoot but there are no owls, it’s just another
bird, bored with its own song, imitating
the tuft-eared clowns of death.
Eerie is no friend of mine. I could
dance to the Mephisto waltz but
but it’d just be more of that maudlin
ballroom fare. I could walk in graveyards
after midnight but the dead could care less.
The woman in black is just unfashionable.
The child in the window is merely anal retentive.
Mysterious lights, strange figures, odd whispers,
I’ve known them all, mostly by their explanations.
I live in a material world. So many answers,
the questions have given up by this. Ghosts?
Not on my watch. The other world and I are worlds apart.
It’s raining and I see cows aplenty.
Is it my fault there really are no cows?
It’s earthquake, ground
full of doubts as to its own sermon;
in the cathedral of sound,
the world rumbling heresy,
cracks chain-sawing the faith.
This day, the floor is
so unsound, it tilts,
breaks up, and the ceiling
crumbles, pulls the walls
down with it.
Worse than any undertow.
Worse than the time he swam for his life.
Must get out, he says.
But the door finds him
before he ends the door.
And then it’s over.
Nothing but wreckage
and the sky’s derision.
A man slumps bleeding
through his broken sainthood
of a house.
The land’s all pits and crevices.
It’s earthquake of the spirit.
The bigger the God,
the deeper the abyss.
PASSION PLAYGROUND OF THE TEEN JET SET
I have to wonder why I don’t leave here,
what kind of refuge is this anyhow,
a flashlight’s glow,
a shadow in a rush,
a port of creaky doors, cracked windows,
of the Da Vinci Code
and a drizzle-faded photograph
of Paris Hilton.
So this is the illuminated life...
at least for as long
as I hold that flashlight
under my unshaven chin
and beg the batteries
to never leave me.
I can hear the beach in the distance,
and overhead a jet plane
bound for the Caribbean.
Only martyrs remain here
in this rooming house.
Here comes the heavy landlady
up the stairs
to stone me for last month’s rent.
I’ll bug her to fix the lights in here.
I’m sick of the dark, weary of the cure.
John Grey is an Australian born poet, playwright, musician, living in Rhode Island. He has been published in Cape Rock, Weber Studies, Writers Bloc and the Connecticut Review, and before on Unfettered Verse.
Johnny Brenda’s, Fishtown
I had been staring out the same window at Johnny Brenda’s
for about two hours, waiting for
a friend to show up.
He walked in from the summer heat with a cigarette hanging
In between his lips and pockets full of change, from
breaking into vending machines.
He sat across from me in the booth and told me how much
he feared that he would be waiting tables
till he lost his teeth.
He asked about the Malvern but I cut him off
to ask about his mother, hoping
something had changed.
He put out his cigarette and stole a sip from my beer
then put it in front of him, opened his mouth
only to let out a sigh.
He told me that looking for change in your parents
is like looking for your reflection in
the water at the Jersey Shore.
I listen to gnats sing around the street lights
as I walk to my ’92 station wagon to drive
half an hour, with the rain falling faster
and harder as I got closer, hearing my
breaks clinching closer together, sparks
being put out by the rain, and the clink
of the door as I open and shut it, running
inside to work on the last Monday of the month.
The morning of foaming lattes, pouring drinks
and steeping tea until I found myself on a break
under a green awning, reading Robert Lowell
then heading back in to bake croissants, count
down the hours and watch the shadows scale
slowly, yet steadily, across the linoleum floor
until I could throw off my apron and start up
my car only to sit in traffic, inch my way home.
It only being the afternoon I decided to find
a deli, eat a quick early dinner, sit and smoke
until the rain cleared and I could head to the
store in hopes of buying something new, some
thing warm and as I crept through the door
I heard the bell ring and the clerk looked up
from his paper to greet me with a glare and
no help in finding dinner and some milk.
My car sputtered up the drive way and parked
inches from the garage, the lock to the back
door switched over and my shoulder pushed
the door open, I threw my bag and keys on to
the table and hung my apron over the stool,
my back still hurting from the morning, my
bed empty and the TV on mute as I watched
Hamles throw a no-hitter on that soaked night.
Our Father's Ground Rule Doubles
With boiled hot dogs
wrapped in lightly
toasted white bread
we huddled around
the T.V. watching
Utley, Victorino and
Rollins roll through
Game 5 and breaking
Ben Franklin’s curse
on a warm night in
late October while
we drank stolen
beer from our fathers
and placed them
gently in a bucket
with ice, Miller ponies,
cans of Schlitz, a bottle
of Sam Adams
were our starting line
up and we took on
the voice of Harry,
called the game
play by play and
guessed which beer
belonged to which
father but by the end
of the 9th inning
the labels were peeled
off and they no longer
served as jerseys
for our fathers.
Daniel Seifert recently graduated with a BA in English from DeSales University. He currently lives outside of Philadelphia where he works as a barista while reading and writing as much as possible. He plans to apply for an MFA in Creative Writing within the next year.