Two poems by John Grey

The Butcher Of Valentine Street

It’s been years since
sides of beef, gutted pigs,
hung in his frozen vault.
His knives and cleavers
are packed away in a trunk,
no longer shining.

There’s still a call for rump and sirloin,
but he’s not the one being called.
And bells jangle in places.
But not the friendly alarm
of his butcher’s shop door
when a customer came n.

He sits out on the nursing home porch
waving to people he doesn’t know.
They don’t stop in for chuck or trip,
or a pound or two of ground round.
And he can’t smell blood any more,
just death.

Look at his hands.
Worn and weary
but without the consolation
of a hard day’s work.
No slicing and dicing a shoulder of lamb.
No grinding out sausage after sausage.
His job is staying alive.
He’s something of a slacker.

He wonders whatever happened
to the stray black cat,
the one that devoured the liver scraps
he tossed its way.
Or the woman he married,
the one who lived off his sweat.

Sun goes down
and he dozes in encroaching shadows.
A crisscross of light and dark:
an ancient tradesman
should be seen that way.

A Winter’s Shore

It’s miserable outside.
An unruly wind batters the trees.
The last of the leaves slowly zigzag to the floor.
Grass and garden shrivel from the cold.
Just the thought of the bitter sea
trembles my nerves.
Darkness settles into its slow, long hours.
Through the window glass,
I can hear voices without names
tick softly on the window glass
like rain.
I draw the curtain,
add more wood to the fire,
maximize how it is in here.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Sin Fronteras, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty with work upcoming in West Trade Review, Willard and Maple and Connecticut River Review.

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