Tuesday, May 14, 2024

A Man Faces Up By John Grey

I admit I’m impossible.
And I’m only faithful
because I believe in repetition.
Affections feels creepy coming from me.
I work all day.
Nights are for drinking.
Three o’clock in the morning
is a time for jerking awake
from a foul dream
and staring at the ceiling,
the walls, the woman beside me.
I have my doubts that
any of this is real.
It looks too much like death
and I can’t hear her breathing.
I ponder my own demise.
The inevitability of it.
The interrogation
by those in the next world,
the ones I leave behind.

My mind blanks on cue.
And my heart
is not a viable instrument
when it comes to remorse.
It has a tough enough job
pumping blood to the far ends
of my body.
I’m not such a bad guy.
I’m worse.
And yet my beginnings
were the same as anybody else’s.
Three a.m. is such an empty time.
I’m disturbed by what tries to fill it –
my extinction, total absence,
even in people’s thoughts.

I’m not afraid of hard work.
I’ve always had a taste
for the high of alcohol –
though not the subsequent let-down.
Can’t fall back to sleep
so my mind takes on organized religion,
doctors, medicines,
people who try to cheer me up,
and the day my senses completely shut down
and my soul has to decide
whether or not it really exists.

The woman beside me
curls up at the edge of my vision.
She does her best to be my savior,
says I work too hard,
drink too much.
That doesn’t bring on hangovers
but bouts of acute pessimism.
Why make the best of life
when all the power rests with the worst of it?

Slowly I doze.
Before I know it,
I’m back in my nightly coma.
I awake to a new day
and I have no choice but to accept it.
I’ll be off to work soon
and to the bar tonight.
I will awake again in the middle of the night,
inappropriately and lamentably.
I wonder why she stays with me.
She wonders who she stays with.
That’s all we have in common.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in New World Writing, Santa Fe Literary Review, and Lost Pilots. Latest books, ”Between Two Fires”, “Covert” and “Memory Outside The Head” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in the Seventh Quarry, La Presa and California Quarterly.