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John Grey | Poetry

Middlebury October

Trip from One Home to the Other

Dying, with sky already at the wake,
a million leaves on racks of branches,
thrashed this way, that way,
by the brassy wind, out to finish
the job the season started.

The bloodless, so blood red,
veins drained of future
trumpet lush October scars,
as frost waits in thought,
and pastels flaunt in ruddy deed.

Despite the withered petioles,
the canopy strains
to live each moment longer.

No promise in this loveliness,
no Lazarus guarantee from
broad late-afternoon:
old dreams curl at the edges,
wrinkle, decay to never waking.
As with all beauty,
survival would defeat the purpose.

For ten thousand miles,
I thought of Brisbane,
landed at Eagle Farm Airport,
anxious to verify
all that accumulated truth.

Would I be stranger to its streets?
Would this man without a country
feel more absolute than ever?
Would my mother’s old salt tears
grant me welcome return?

First night, jet-lagged,
I followed the moon till dawn,
more fear than faith,
as I looked out on
this dimmest of frontiers
until the sun woke up
and burned clear its favorite continent.

I heard the surf near,
rowdy, boisterous,
no longer that New England
tepid crawl over rock scrawl –
from the palm trees
on the first lighted hill,
sulfur-crested cockatoos
came out at me shrieking.

This is the house I was born and raised in.
Only storms can claim more thunder.
Half New Englander, half Australian,
between two worlds, no hesitation.


John Grey is an Australian poet, U.S. resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Perceptions and Sanskrit, with work upcoming in South Carolina Review, Gargoyle, Owen Wister Review and Louisiana Literature.

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