THE POET AND THE PLUMBER
I figure he couldn't
write a poem to save his life
but what use is poetry
when a pipe is leaking,
the toilet's backed up.
and the hot water tap
brings me nothing but cold.
The plumber immerses himself
in the grunginess under the sink.
He's not afraid.to go
where only half-flushed human waste
has gone before.
But he's more than just
first one over the top
in the war against errant liquids,
With pipe wrench, pliers,
he's the nimble conductor of that
great orchestra of how things work.
I eschew conversation with a tradesman.
Leave him to it.
He might ask. me what I do.
What can I say?
"Give me a call
when you're stuck for assonance,
alliteration and metonymy."
He's done in less than the time it takes me
to rustle up a last line.
But then he hands me the bill.
There's the difference.
Poetry has its price
but not what you see on paper.
TRASH PICKUP ALARM CLOCK
Tuesdays add trash pickup to morning noise,
chicken bones are ground into bus gears,
running children are recycled with a clang,
church bells ding against busted jelly jars,
even a next door neighbors' first
shouting match of the day echoes
through soda bottle and empty baked beans cans.
I rise to the clatter of a week's worth of garbage
shaken down by mechanical arms.
My sleep is deafened. My dreams are lucky
they dissipate before the grinder's blades have at them.
A frightened dog howls, adds to the cacophony.
My wife rolls over, pretends this is not happening.
She may be dressed prudently for bed
but her nerves are exposed to the next
round of shunting, grunting and clamor.
There is no escaping the life we lead.
It generates waste. It cannot simply be.
The city council cleans up on our behalf.
And we pay in these disturbances.
It's time to get up even if it's really not.
The night is ended because sounds say so.
Day breaks despite the bedside clock's naysaying.
It's Tuesday morning. The outside is the true alarm.
YOU SHOULD SEE ME NOW
I'm strolling down the street
wearing ragged jeans with holes in pockets
but a smart looking jacket
picked up in a thrift shop,
and so in love
I swear the clouds in the sky
These Levis are dying on the vine
to be sure
but my face glows
like I'm some fairy-tale prince
with the absolutely right shoe for the left foot
or the perfect lips for a mouth in a coma
or reciting aloud the poems I wrote
this very morning
that white birds deliver
to their intended.
I swear the sun
is a huge yellow grin
and the trees
summon up a chorus
of glad-handing whispers
and the traffic can't even get
a grumbling sound in
for the triple-time beating of my heart.
on a mission to discredit others.
Sunshine accompanies me on my walk,
gets me drunk on glistening.
What a world.
What a sidewalk.
What a woman waiting for me
at the diner on King Street.
If my heart could walk,
it would take these steps exactly.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Mudfish and Spindrift with work upcoming in South Carolina Review, Gargoyle, Sanskrit and Louisiana Literature.