CEMETERY by John Grey

This is the place.
(Cue the funeral music.)
This where we all end up.
My father-in-law, mother-in-law
are interred there.
Only their disapproval lives on.

There’s former mayors.
Many a councilman.
Even a state governor.
And my ancestors of course.
It’s instructive to know
the worms are eating their way
toward me.

It’s Monday afternoon
and only the few, non-working, devoted
ramble among the stones.
One or two bear flowers,
to place beneath the inscriptions,
as if more living things
need dying.
A couple go from grave to grave
scratching their heads.
They’ve forgotten
where they left their dead.

I, on the other hand,
walk these trails for the exercise.
I intend to live a long time.
Of course, this is also
a graveyard of intentions.

You can’t get that taste
of death out of your mouth.
The butcher’s shop
is a morgue to you.
Even that smart boutique
on the corner
sells nothing
but what rotting corpses
are wearing this year.
You saw the killing.
Soldiers sweated.
Farmers bled.
They tell you its safe here.
That’s right.
Dead bodies tell you
it’s safe here.


after a very small and inconsequential misunderstanding
she gives me a chance to redeem myself, to utter some untruth,
to assuage her skinned-knee pride.

I roll over, say
forget it, just go.
I’ve had it with you.

your behavior is barbaric
and you ought to live in a cave
that’s what she tells me
swallowing the last of the wine,
clomping around in her shoes.
on her way out she slams the door.

if only I could fake how I don’t feel
she’d still be here,
boring me to tears.

“this week we broadcast 59 hours
of investigations to annihilate the mainstream fairytale
of what happened
on September 11, 2001:
medicine for comatose america, as I
turn my eyes to english skies
and study for the point
of rapture:

behold the pale horse

few are chosen

everything they ever told you was a lie

 Dear Valentine

MK  says
The true test of a man
is the zombie-war theory.
I whisper this excitedly
all Valentine’s Day night
high on XTC
every other sentence
I love you because-
or what I love about you is-
not that your dick is so beautiful,
and it is,
but because
when they come
“the living dead”
clawing at the doors
bloody mouthed
friends, family,
the guy from Quick Stop down the street
almost unrecognizable-
pleading  to be let in
“But it’s me,”
they’ll say
You won’t be fooled.
You will lock the iron gate
baracade the doors,
know the gangsters to call
the ones with larger arsenals
than The OPD
You’ll throw haymakers with your muscled arms
a pistol in your waist
throw hot grenades  from the front porch,
even if it’s your babies’ mama
all grisly, pitiful, and hungry.
You’ll train the kids to shoot on sight-
sic the dogs-
and I know
that we will survive
the zombie wars


Back Bone

when you offer to oil me down
to massage out my aches
I picture you,
unzipping my greasy body
you rub each organ
squeeze their toxins
into a trash can pulled close
your strong hands
take up the still small uterus
milk out the embryo
like a pus filled pimple
you reach deeper
past viscous reds and purples
remove each disc
file and paste
rotten cartilage
gently  blow off bone dust
and put my pieces
together again.



I suck icicles
Half my child size
Runny red nose
Taste of tin
and cold of winter
Ivory soap goes milky in the tub
House heats up
From wood stove
Snow slides down roof’s peak
Whoosh and stab
snow banks impaled

In jail tiny bars of ivory
float in backed up drains
paper wrappers and all
panties  hand washed
with white squares
dry on the head of the bunk
and the smell of innocence is lost
and institutional.


Visited the Alamo
In San Antonio
So much smaller
Then I imagined
The citadel
Of my youthful
Valiant fantasies
Shocked when I saw
The interior
Was a gift shop
It seemed so much
More real
On the big screen
With John Wayne
In his coonskin cap
And his valiant comrades
To the very end
Against the overwhelming
Of Santa Ana’s army
Now that was the real Texas
And that was the real America
Dream on, Steve
Dream on while you
Wade through
The overwhelming hordes
Of tourists
Struggling to purchase
A remembrance
Of old glory


After six months
Working the screen
I finally made
A righteous connection
On Facebook
As of Valentine’s Day
Monday morning
I am “friends”
With Linda King
Yes, the Linda King
The beauty
Who stole the heart
Of Charles Bukowski
With her high
Quick wit
And fantastic tits
I’m pleased to say
That after viewing
The photos of Linda
On her Facebook page
That she has not lost
One inch
Of her sublime appeal
She remains
And I wonder
Is there a possibility…?
But no
That is too much to hope
I know that no one
Living or dead
Could match
Hank’s expertise
In certain aspects
Of human interaction
The things he could do
With a typewriter
Drove many a woman
And man
With naked lust
And envy
And left them
Always wanting


A sixty year old hipster
Pushes a song into my hand
Every time I leave the bandstand
To try to go to the can
I’m standing there peeing
While this lost soul is bleating
Words he wrote to a lover
Who dumped him a lifetime ago
“I’m the next Bob Dylan,”
He looks at me, vaguely,
His eyes unglued
“All you have to do is write the music,
Sing my words and record it,
And we’ll both soon
Be number one with a star”
My long night finally finished
I head for my chopper
He jumps out from behind a dumpster
“I’ve got a .38 in my pocket –
Sing my song or I’ll kill
Myself, I swear!”
“Grandpa,” I say, “back off, you fool –
And don’t touch my bike, or…”
He puts the pistol to his temple
And pulls the trigger
And splatters his brain junk
All over my machine
I kick off before anybody
Comes out to investigate
Maybe someday I’ll
Write a song about him
“Death of the Next Bob Dylan”
But, then again, he was such a pest
Maybe not


Yoko Ono won’t leave me alone
She keeps calling on the phone
She wants a piece of my ectoplasm
To hang next to her djinn
A pastiche of her old man’s last clothes
Ringo Starr harangues me
Old bugger follows me around
Begging for a hand in my new magic land
“I can still peel the skins,” he says,
“I want to perform as the clown in your show”
Back home from the Jordan
I find pretty Paulie kneeling at my door
“I hear you’re talking to Ringo and Ono,
What’s wrong with me?” he says,
“I need you to give my jingles backbone”
I gather the three together in a circle
Around my cushion – I levitate
For them, remove my head and
Replace it for them, turn the world
Upside down for them
I say, “Do you see the powers that
I possess?  Do you understand
Who I am?”  “Yes!  Yes!” all three exclaim,
“But when, dear brother, oh when
Are you planning to restart the band
And place us back up on the throne?”


Chicago, 2009

Because he works in an office and is white
and because she who tans anyway has just
returned from a week at the Beach,
the commuters are certain she’s not black
yet they rustle in their seats.
They want to see her hands flick.
They want to see if rivers run dark
through ivory palms.
Martin may be dead
and Obama may have won
but in Chicago this morning at dawn
a rainbow of people
still rustle in their seats.

With her palms pressed
against the window’s midnight,
she seemed almost helpless.
Until he touched her shoulder.
And watched her sparkle
A million strands
of worthless diamonds.
to pool
beneath his feet.