Three Poems by John Grey

These three poems by John Grey reflect the poet’s initial forays into the world of the arts as both audience member & participant, and also ask the question: How and why does the singular person subsume themselves into the couple?
by: John Grey

When the great poet
stepped onto the stage,

the room spun
like a compass needle,

everything pointed 
in his direction

as if he was a literary 
magnetic north

and everyone in the audience
was metal.

To be honest,
his voice was a dull monotone

and the stuff he read, nondescript.
But we were all

a little lost that night.
We turned to him for navigation.

Yes, I mastered the guitar
by strumming a child's tennis racket
before the mirror.
My sister joined in on drums
or, at least, various pots and pans.
In the spotlight of my imagination,
I quickly mastered Jimmy Page riffs 
and Jeff Beck solos.
The applause was immense.
At least that's how my ears heard it.

Then a cheap acoustic model
found its way into my hands
and, far from the crowds,
I was forced into lessons,
strumming the same chord over and over,
picking the notes to 'Aura Lee.'
When it came time to make actual sounds,
my fantasies were horrified.

And yet I persevered as kids do
when their mother keeps reminding them
that she's shelling out money she can't afford
just so their fingertips callus
and their version of "Horse With No Name"
can entertain at family gatherings.

Finally the hard body arrived
and the amplifier
and a real band formed around me.
We stepped onto a silent stage
before a bunch of strangers
and proceeded to make the kind of noise
that they could dance to.

Okay so my licks didn't go over
as well as did that tennis racket plunking
many years before.
But what I achieve has always been just a warm-up act.
The world still hasn't heard
from all that I intended.

Day after day,
we deceive each other.
Both of us are working toward
full-blown treason.
Trust has mutated into lies,
into treachery.
In everything we do,
we're plots, cloak and dagger,
skullduggery and double agents.
We're ruthless spies,
our assignment: each other.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Stand, Washington Square Review and Rathalla Review. Latest books, Covert, Memory Outside The Head, and Guest Of Myself are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in the McNeese Review, Santa Fe Literary Review and Open Ceilings.

Header art by Sandra Veillette.

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