Two Poems by John Grey

Famous Writer’s Long-Johns

I’m on a tour of a famous writer’s house,
standing behind the rope,
taking in details of his parlor,
bedroom and bath.
Everything is as expected.
Genius is surely not in
his choice of soap-dish.

The kitchen table is set
with plastic food.
I hope it wasn’t like that
in his day.
But the books on the shelves
are real enough.
I notice a couple that were published
after he died.
How prescient of the man.
And there’s a desk in a small study
where he wrote everything long hand.
This was before carpal tunnel syndrome
was invented.

Truth is I can read
whatever of the famous writer is out there
and know so much more of him
than in studying his old coffee mug from a distance.

But the point of these places
is to make the great seem ordinary.
That’s the least their houses can do for them.
For example, I can see
the dull wooden wardrobe,
with a hook to hoist his long-johns.
It’s not a scene he would have written.

Lack of Evidence

It’s the only photograph of my father
that I still possess
and it’s not displayed in some prominent place
in my house
but is shoved inside a drawer
with dozens of other snapshots from the past.
Besides, it’s faded.
I can barely make out his features.
It might even be of one of his brothers.
No one bothered to label it.

We were never a family
for whipping out our cameras
like six-guns.
We didn’t take aim at everything that posed.
But people died or moved away.
Memory wasn’t mighty as expected.
And no one ever imagined the role
regret would play some day.

The man died only months into my life.
And at an age that I have long since passed.
Truth is, I know nothing of him but his name.
The photograph adds nothing to this.
I can’t even tell if he’s smiling
or, like I said before, who’s smiling.

John Grey is an Australian poet and US resident, recently published in Stand, Washington Square Review, and Floyd County Moonshine. His latest books, Covert, Memory Outside The Head, and Guest Of Myself, are available through Amazon. He has work upcoming in the McNeese Review, Santa Fe Literary Review, and Open Ceilings.

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