Two Poems by John Grey


Snakes hiss and sometimes they rattle.
They don’t sing. And none have spoken
since the Garden of Eden.

Their very presence is ominous,
for us, not for them. The word “serpent” is like
an angry snake on the tongue.

They are s-shaped in a world where
nothing is. Except for the mouths of those
who speak the word “serpent” and get away with it.

Karaoke Night

Sure I’d rather it was Van the Man up here
and not me.
Or Rod the Mod.
Or whoever else recorded this song.
But this is a Karaoke bar.
The stars don’t perform here.
Only the rankest of amateurs.

I request number 175,
“Have I Told You Lately That I Love You.”
Knees tremble.
Jaw clamps tight.
Brow sweats.
Can barely hold the mike in my hand.
I just hope you realize
that the bum notes
don’t represent bum feelings.
And when the melody
gets away from me,
just remember,
there’s more to a man
than the sweetness of his voice.

And, besides,
I have told you lately that I love you.
So consider yourself warned.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Midwest Quarterly, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in South Florida Poetry Journal, Hawaii Review and Roanoke Review.

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