SOUTH BEACH COUGAR
on her doorstep,
suitors and their flowers
tremble like grasses after a storm-
hi the big blue room
is happy to see them -
she is beloved, besought
but men's tongues are not
always to be believed—
they're younger than her children
some of them
and their skins
are inevitably copper-brown
with bleached hair,
imprint of surfboards on their under-arms,
and a lie to air-brush
every wrinkle of her fading looks -
thanks to gigolos and wealth,
and an avoidance of mirrors,
she can imagine herself
still twenty five -
yes, she knows money
can't slow the passage of years
but she likes the way
it get time's attention -
You’re in no endless sleep
from which some prince’s kiss
can wake you.
You’re merely lying on the couch
on a Saturday afternoon,
sweating with boredom,
mindlessly flipping channels on the television.
And you’re not in this condition
because some wicked fairy
cast a spell on spindles.
There’s no such things as fairies
and you’ve never sewn
a damn thing in your life.
The responsibility lies
with you and reality.
It’s like a dare.
Who will be the first to budge?
No, this is not a story
like your mother once
recited at your bedside.
It’s “get off the damn couch
and do something”,
the tale she reads from now.
WHY I MARRIED A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN
never have been satisfied
with just anyone.
I needed to be smug
CIGARETTE PACK GUY
He was always looking down -
at the sidewalk, the grass, the road.
He collected cigarette packs,
boasted, to anyone who'd listen,
that he had at least a thousand brands.
Most people avoided him.
Some reckoned there never were
a thousand different brands
Even the diehard smokers
could only name you five.
No one knew his name.
They just called him cigarette pack guy.
One day, kids broke into his apartment
and stole his Luckies Go to War
and Buffalo Cigarrillos.
They left behind his pension check
so the cops never took it seriously.
When he knew he was dying,
he tried to donate his collection
to the local college.
They shook their heads
and smirked behind his back.
After his funeral,
a cleaning crew tossed
every last packet into the trash.
They were buried.
He was burned.
"Ashes to ashes," the pastor said.
But nothing about what they came in.
THERE IS A TOWN
Where folks are awoken nightly
at 2.00 a.m. by complete silence.
And where the possible seldom happens
and the impossible never does.
And no kid who graduated from the local high school
ever showed up for a 20th reunion.
And nobody gets funky.
And there’s at least three guys,
living on the same street, named Cameron.
And there’s nothing about a cow that the people don’t know.
Sheep, however, are a different story.
And the mayor is always willing to honor someone
with the ceremonial key to the town, but no one’s ever
taken him up on the offer.
And everybody takes just enough pride in what they do
so that they don’t have to aim higher.
And life goes on as before
and before that as well.
And there is shame in being depressed
but not in voting to shutter the library.
And average parents nurture average offspring.
And no one fears change because there is none.
And people only volunteer for tasks that can be
accomplished within a half-hour.
And no one is considered morbidly obese
until their hearts explode and, even then, only in passing.
And young men shave off their beards before
anyone suggests they do.
And some of the women let theirs grow.
And the highway is fifty miles to the east.
And it was just forty miles away a week ago.
Bio: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.