Sunday, October 25, 2020

John Grey - Andy And Maria

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Hawaii Pacific Review, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty with work upcoming in Blueline, Willard and Maple and Clade Song.


Andy And Maria

the baby is brown

the baby is damp

the baby is clenched to her chest

but apparently too loose

always hold the baby

by its chest

his mother would say

never hold the baby

by the arms and legs

now he lives with a woman 

who can never hand the baby off fast enough

a woman who sits up nights watching 

the neutering rays of an ancient television set,

who keeps head-files on everyone she knows

like she's the FBI

every lip suck    every nose nuzzle    every eye rolling

he lives with her

she's drink in a time of dry lonely moments

she’s pain in the ass 

but gorgeous in the shadows

and the shelter of sheets and blankets

not so much when affected by

the nag-virus

or when he’s pinned down by

the dull rhythm of her voice

in ordinary conversation

(and he’s next door to the apartment of the

Interstellar pack-rat in blue sweats 

blue beard    yellow newspapers leaking out the windows

who lives amid the annihilation

of all his smelly dead dogs  

who wants to be part of one

crowded spaceship on course for Andromeda

sometime next July)   -  that’s just an aside -

now he is in hock to Mussolini the landlord 

and his National-Enquirer-reading wife 

to the torn curtains 

to the lumpy sofa 

to the cigarette burns in the rug

the nuked food in the stove’s recesses 

the fist caverns in the wall 

he is in hock to his genitals when he’s scouring

through the on-line sex-sideshow in search of the

midget and the bearded lady 

or when he’s reading old copies of Rolling Stone

for the stories on bands

radio won’t play anymore

he’s in hock to pride and avarice and lust and...

but who's keeping score

and his ex bawling on the telephone because

her lazy  dim-wit husband's been seduced by another man

(the asshole next door is rising up out of dark pits

of excrement with a placard warning of the

Almighty Octopus Nation of the Merciless Computer Skunks)

and people from Nebraska who don't know 

he gives shitty directions

and Art the cook in the diner next door

whose idea of expanding his menu options

is to diligently wipe the sweat from his brow

and onto the plate 

it's this woman he can't do without

and when he does try to do without

events lick the back of him like a postage stamp

and fasten him to a letter

and then mail him right back to her

now why can't I do it alone, he’s asking

why can't I vote myself out of the great autocracy of need

it's people mostly    it's people who show up everywhere

like muzak   like flesh and bone muzak   and, more than that 

it's things               it's things like cell phones with their invisible people

on the other end    it's things like unwashed underwear 

or anything common as muck and jism and sperm 

and bathrooms and death and politics and bodies 

in the bed beside him imported from some island

by a combination of his penis and her smile and 

freaky guitar playing and the blatant hunger 

wherever he has a body part and the cavities 

in his head and heart and the booze with its

round or flat bottles of liquid assassins 

and the sheer debauchery of romantic stuff 

and the fact that of all the wishes

he's had about women he never once wished they all be


it's the baby

which is not even his baby

her features     none of his   

the offspring 

of another’s mattress springs 

there really is no way out

not when his rooms are stuffed with her

a shopping list is pasted to his eyes

his hand is up her shirt

and their private crazies are a match made

in Dante’s Inferno

and sure as hell 

not when

the baby is brown

the walls of the rooms are brown

the sidewalk trees are brown

the color of her heaving belly is brown

is brown is brown is brown is brown

everything naked and useless is brown

it's been raining brown rain

and brown is at the center of the network

like souls and theories

newscasters from the front desk 

at the peace of mind studios

who inform him that loneliness 

is closing down

for good

to be replaced by

the grinning-in-his-lap baby

the here-you-take-her-for-a-while baby

a citizen’s arrest baby

always hold the baby

by its contents

his mother would say

never hold the baby

by the arms

never love a woman

for her looks

it ain't easy to pick up on what's inside he says

not when he’s the one

holding the baby

and people stop and gawk

at slivers of cuteness,

plump flesh in all directions.

new life puking

on the old

down   down

the front of his clean white shirt    

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