John Grey: Two Poems

Skull and Shell

As a boy,
traipsing through the woods,
I found a bullet shell.
I rubbed it like a magic lamp,
I wore it in my shirt pocket,
close to my heart.
It was used to kill a bandit I reckoned,
That was my story
and I stuck to it
by telling no one.

A week later,
same forest,
I found a skull,
probably a bird’s
but I imagined it to be
the bad guy’s.
that evil-doer
shot in a fair fight
by a man who never took
a backward step.
I kept it in my pocket as a warning.

I was young enough to believe anything
but, when it came to instilling creeds
in my precocious but malleable mind,
my imagination always got there first.
The good guy took care of the villain
and not a mile from where I lived.
And I wore the evidence around with me.
It jangled. It clicked.
For a time, I truly pitied those
who had to take it on faith.
I had the skull. I had the shell.
And this meant, I had me.


The Big Leap

Why shouldn’t I
show how happy I am.
I leap into the air.
Not once.
Ten times maybe.
Anyone can see it.
And the winds can blow me around
if they see fit.
I don’t care.
Not even if little children point and laugh
and their mothers pull them off
in a different direction.
I will defend my self-expression
like Voltaire standing up for free speech
except I’m too busy
jumping about like a mad man
to put anything into words.
No pretense.
No reticence.
I’m strictly sky-bound
and nothing and no one can stop me.
I’ve just been kissed
by the loveliest woman I know.
If you don’t like it,
then be thankful that she didn’t kiss you. 

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, and Hollins Critic. Latest books–Leaves On Pages, Memory Outside The Head, and Guest Of Myself–are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Ellipsis, Blueline, and International Poetry Review.

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