Economics 101 - Convenience Store RobberyTwo guys in ski masks, one brandishing a gun, burst into the convenience store make the cashier lie down on the floor, grab the money from the till and drive off. The cashier calculates in his head how much they took, how many convenience stores they could feasibly rob in a week, comes to the conclusion - jeez, they make less than me. And then you have to buy the gun. And the ski masks. And the gas, And there's the wear and tear on the getaway car. Cashier gets robbed of his dignity, makes up for it with math. ***
RegimenRegarding a first date - dance like zombies in a video flick? go see a movie with subtitles? eat at a restaurant where chopsticks are de rigueur? And what about take her back to my place, give her the dime store Martha Stewart tour of my humble apartment, leaving the room that sets off all those jackhammers and guitar strummers to the very last? Of course, the classics are front and center in my small library. And a fancy art book occupies half the coffee table. And the bed's been made for the first time in a month. And music on the stereo - Debussy, the famed French aphrodisiac. Not forgetting wine - the struggling connoisseur's fallback. And again regarding a first date - pose like false sophisticates? prowl around each other like big cats in heat? maybe just talk, get to know each other, make plans for the next time - wait - forget the question mark - this is how it is. ***
The City and the BridgeThe city late at night is as unreal as a church spire pointing the way through factory rooftops. Indifference piles on with empty buildings, the shine in their glass eyes more lumens than waits, untrodden sidewalks, and a total absence of traffic. The slow sewer-hued river slops against its banks as it staggers drunkenly toward the bay Moored boats thump their dock uneasily. By day, they're gondolas. But at night, dark and dreary, they remind me more of veterans from Ganges funeral rites. I'm following the waterside path to the Point Street Bridge, a hunchbacked span rusted by moonlight, its ghostly humorless arch not Lego for lovers but a prison for the homeless who sleep against its pylons, behind street-lamp striped bars. The place feels so lonely that either my archangel drops down from the dubious clouds or I'm rendered invisible, in fact as well as thought. Call this a kind of hopeless bondage to which only a loner submits. Yes. a soulless man could jump from that bridge. But he could just as easily walk toward it. ***
Dawn Across The BayA gripping orange-red interstice relieves sea surface of all umbra. What was once scattered lanterns is now light enough for all. My eyes arc keen with this fresh identity, albedo wave caps and, hugging the docks, the diffuse reflectivity of fishing vessels, and sailboats like shards of shell from the broken cosmic egg. There's promise of a bountiful joy in the bobbing Eos prelude, skippers and crew, bird and fish, await their signal - pull up anchor. When was the last time I truly saw something begin, when it was my unspoken word that seemed to get it going? The captains may think they're in command. But, in my world, it's the stowaway who gives the orders. ***
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in That, Dunes Review, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in Qwerty, Thin Air, Dalhousie Review and elsewhere.
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