Brought to you by Circumstances

You didn’t put this house here
nor did you fill it with these people.
The year, the month, the day, are not your doing.
Your age is only partly your fault,
for failing to slam your car into a tree,
for refusing to catch a deadly strain of pneumonia.

Your current life is a convergence of circumstances
from the street you live on
to the miserable weather
to the last commercial on the tv.

You’d prefer to lie down in the snow.
You’d rather be naked in the dairy aisle of the supermarket.
Please swans, you say to the birds in the park pond,
let me paddle with you a while.

But the walls of the house won’t hear of it.
The bones that hold up the people
hold you up as well.
Time, your age, say nothing doing.
The Street allows no such thing.
The weather didn’t blow up this way
just so you could ignore it.
And what about that commercial,
for white brighter teeth.
You have teeth don’t you.
Yes, those are yours,
the ones with your life attached.

* * * * *

John Grey is an Australian-born poet, but has been a US resident since the late seventies. He works as financial systems analyst, and has recently been published in Xavier Review, White Wall Review and Writer’s Bloc with work upcoming in Poem, Prism International and the Cider Press Review. John Grey has been published recently in The Talking River, South Carolina Review and Karamu with work upcoming in Prism International, Poem and The Evansville Review.

People of the Night

Shadow
is all fading sunlight
makes of trees.

Oaks grow horizontal.
Pines likewise.
The ice itself is the forest.

Slowly,
we trudge through
black trunk,

bodiless branches,
the crust
of treetops.

Nothing
but dark feelings
rapier thin.

Silhouettes
in all
our depth.

*

This post is part of a series on trees. Submit your tree features to snakeoilcure[at]gmail[dot]com.

* * *

John Grey is an Australian-born poet, and US resident since late seventies. He works as financial systems analyst, and has been recently published in Xavier Review, White Wall Review and Writer’s Bloc, with work upcoming in Poem, Prism International and the Cider Press Review. John Grey has been published recently in The Talking River, South Carolina Review and Karamu with work upcoming in Prism International, Poem and The Evansville Review. His other contributions to Snake-Oil Cure can be found here.

America Awakens After Twenty Years

It’s not only names of presidents you have to relearn,
give or take some new ones.
It’s SUV, Microsoft, Walmart, American Idol.
There’s probably no word for reality t.v.
in your native tongue.
And wars have moved across the map.
We hate other people now.

It’s not enough for you to hug,
you must buy, you must support.
It’s not a case of reimaging your old life.
You have to hunker down at the sushi bar,
swap auteur theory with the college crowd
at Starbucks.

Luckily, it’s politics as usual
and California has not sunk into the sea,
but the wool still dangles over the eyes
and many are the hands that pulled it there.

Yes, there’s still solitude to be had in oceans
and slow hikes atop mountain ranges.
And sex, as far as can be ascertained,
is still in the public domain.

But God’s been kidnapped
and the ransom note will get here
as soon as those hijackers can find
someone who can spell.
In the meantime,
religion is for sale on eBay.
The highest bid so far
is self-righteousness.

* * * * *

John Grey is an Australian born poet, US resident since late seventies. Works as financial systems analyst. Recently published in Xavier Review, White Wall Review and Writer’s Bloc with work upcoming in Poem, Prism International and the Cider Press Review. John Grey has been published recently in The Talking River, South Carolina Review and Karamu with work upcoming in Prism International, Poem and The Evansville Review. His other contributions to Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure can be found here.

A Man finds his Valley

As he struggled over one last rock,
suddenly the valley opened up before him.
Awe overtook him.
As his breath held up a lamp
to his tired and shadowed body.
history suddenly turned a chapter.
I will live here, he said.
Before a post was thumped into earth,
his eyes were already planting seed,
building a homestead.
Everything below him was
like a painting out of his own dreams.
He knew that green.
The gold was as familiar as
the knuckles of his right hand.
The floor of this world
was the ceiling of his sleep,
heavy with wild oats.
that flushed against his cheeks.
Geography had taken time out
of boring school-room classes,
to make his moment.
Not a tree, not a stone, was out of place.
The creek rolled over its rocky bed,
through a gauntlet of narrow willows.
Farms quilted the lower slopes.
Houses were spaced
many arm stretches apart.
Two flanks of mountain held the valley in,
one side protecting it from the sea,
the other stemming the desert winds.
It could pick and choose the best
of whatever weather was going.
At the far end, more houses
clustered against a mud-walled church.
This was the town, the only one visible.
From where he stood, it looked a town
that could make good of one more man.
And he was that man,
loping down the escarpment now,
singing and waving
to a stranger in a field.
No, not a stranger. Himself.