A BELIEF IN YOUR CURRENT LOCATION
You were ass-deep in parents.
And there was no place else but where you lived.
And no other time.
It’s where you got that foot-long scar.
But the chickens and fish had it worse.
Sometimes, you start believing
you’re still back there and then.
All the old impulses:
scribble on the walls,
throw the dish,
kick the cushion across the room.
The past has integrated the present.
Your body’s old but the arguments are young.
Sure, you’re bigger than the pigtailed girl in pictures.
But you’re still afraid.
And you don’t like the surveillance.
Or being loved one moment and abandoned the next.
Of going unprotected
among those both cruel and generous,
often at the same time.
You are currently seated at a terminal,
in a cubicle, in a large office,
dressed business casual,
tapping on a keyboard,
answering a phone when it rings.
So keep repeating to yourself –
I am. I am.
RUSHES OF BLOOD
Alone at last and finally she speaks to someone.
I finish the second and I crave another.
When I’m done, I’ll leave you with my assistant.
Knowing no better, I begin with A.
Much new business in our town
but the tattoo parlor’s closing.
I am a giant who avoids those much tinier than me.
I pause and lick the envelope,
inject paste into my system.
Was the needle not painful enough?
Taking a long while is hard work.
I put the letter to my lips,
taste what the other is trying to say.
No old person wants to be standing on the rung
of any kind of ladder.
Shake your head enough and your eyes will close.
Apprenticed to my face are these twitches and shakes.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in That, Dunes Review, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Thin Air, Dalhousie Review and failbetter.