PRODIGAL SON IN OVERDRIVE
Outer-space above, me below,
can't get home fast enough,
run a red light here and there,
an old song on the radio
channeling my foot on the accelerator,
every song like a prayer
as I enter the straightaway,
a little frayed, some bits of me
hanging on like kids on a running board,
but enough together
to test this tarmac's aptitude for thunder.
And all around me, there's
high trees of fire-night smoke,
ocean drowning in its own roll,
no rain, no wind, just flattening,
and miles, the fluttering threads
of last night's dreams.
Why the call now? I don't know.
And across the distance
that now holds all this love for me?
Up from the southwest,
regrets, anger, stupidity, all untangling.
Don't even need the song really.
Just the prayer.
Hope has first dibs on the driveway.
Forgiveness will answer the door.
Two years has it been,
two years and stop counting right now.
For time claims to be the ultimate wound healer.
And I take time at its word.
DEATH WAS JUST A FISH STORY
Her face against the glass
of the kitchen aquarium.
she watches fish swim in endless circles.
Better than the black-haired doll she says.
the ones whose hands she waves.
legs she kicks.
Try as her imagination might.
it can't get that bundle
of rag and stuffing
to be much more than death.
But this is a good game.
fish always on the move,
going somewhere even if it's just
where they are coming from.
And in the next room.
relatives are eating and sobbing.
mourning and chattering ..
The widow slides her wedding band
up and down her finger
like sending signals to her skin.
her cold knuckles.
Did they have to bury him in that suit,
she asks herself
And why the glasses?
He was always embarrassed by his failing
And such a panic ...
what to tell the child.
They would not let the little one see the body.
She can be amused by fish instead.
The water's clean.. the skin is golden.
And nothing's always doing something.
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.