a poetry e-zine










John Grey



From her window,

she watches the cop sirens

spinning down by the river.

Everyone but she knows

they’re dragging those muddy waters

for a body.

Her big sister’s heart

tap dances on her rib-cage.

She knew the boy.

Her parents sit glumly

on the parlor couch,

the television silent.

What if it was their child?

She grabs her doll,

grips it to her chest.

It doesn’t move.

Its eyes are frozen plastic.

She tips it

and its voice-box warbles


All are safe

until the batteries run down.






That’s not the devil

in these childhood snapshots

despite the grin

right out of Beelzebub

and sure

there’s something

in those lips

that whisper,

“pluck the apple, Eve”

and the eyes...

when the war in heaven starts,

you know on which side

those peepers will line up

but I’m only three

and forced to sit

on that damn bear rug

while the photographer

takes his blessed time

to get the focus right

I’m three years old,

bored, restless,

hungry and tired,

and am fully open to

Christian interpretation






My wife and I are tenth car in the funeral,

a tiny flag fluttering from the antenna

announcing that we belong with death.

The string of autos passes

slowly through the stop sign.

The rules of the road give way

to the rites of passage.

Some tears are shed

but mostly it's the fear

that someone will fly through a green light,

smash in the passenger side door.

It all makes more sense on the highway.

We clog the slow lane.

The living can zip around us.

Finally, we're off the streets altogether

and crawling along the cemetery's narrow trail

to a tiny chapel

and a hole in the ground.

Prayers are said.

For ourselves, mostly.

The coffin's lowered.

Our chins, our mouths, likewise.

That rosewood box hits bottom

with a gentle thud.

Our faces rise from the dead.

We're the tenth couple to survive.






I always threaten my wife with a

scratched Black Sabbath vinyl album

played full blast on the stereo

when she upsets me.

It's the only weapon I have in my arsenal.

I don't hit women.

I'm wired not to throw things.

I refuse to even raise my voice.

And I see no point in slamming doors.

Or even vengeful poetry.

No, it's Ozzy, Tony and the gang

screaming "Iron Man" or "Paranoid"

or nothing.

And I have no gun in the house.

Don't believe in them.

So if someone breaks in,

threatens my family,

they'll need to wait until the

record player warms up.

1 know just what to tell the cops

when they get here.

"It was self defense officer.

I'd never have blasted them

with distorted guitar, pounding drums,

throbbing bass and screeching vocals

if they hadn't fired first."

And when it's time to beat up on myself,

then sorry Rod, sorry Leonard,

sorry Mister Zimmerman,

my ears are flush to the speaker

but it's not your music punishing me.

In my imaginings,

an army goes to war

with nothing but battered Black Sabbath albums

tucked under their arms.

No nuclear weapons,

just a Hoover Dam-sized hi-fi set up.

Yes, when I'm angry with my wife,

when I'm threatened,

when I'm down on myself,

if often leads to war

in distant lands.



John Grey is an Australian born poet; he works as financial systems analyst. He has been recently published in Poem, Spindrift, Prism International and the horror anthology, “What Fears Become” with work upcoming in Potomac Review, Hurricane Review and Pinyon.

Copyright 2012  Chantarelle's Notebook