The Other Facts of Life ~ The idea behind the poem was the way a father introducing the mysterious inner workings of an automobile is both a bonding exercise and a rite of passage between the two with grease, ball bearings nad belt instead of their mushier equivalents.
The Stage ~ "The Stage" is my concept of a teenage coming of age. It's no doubt inspired by my growing up with three older sisters and no brothers.
Before Connecting ~ "Before Connecting" is my ode to the beauty of solitude Everyone is so closely connected with friends, families etc. these days that these moments of being alone are fewer and far between. Of course, the title is "Before Connecting" so the inference is that the peace won't last for long.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, South Carolina Review, Gargoyle and Silkworm work upcoming in Big Muddy Review, Main Street Rag and Spoon River Poetry Review.
You showed me what
lurked under the hood of an automobile when I was eleven: battery, bushings,
master cylinder, radiator. And more than merely
opening up its intricacies like an illustration in a book, you took my hand,
poked my fingers in grease, rubbed them across ball-bearings and belts,
calling out names as you did so like a doctor at a teaching hospital with a
Chevy for a
I still can remember
the raunchy gasoline smell and the grit that oozed under my fingernails, that
indoctrination to the one secret society that both terrified and thrilled me,
that, for all its grown-up complexities, wanted me as a member.
Nothing since then
has matched the moment when you turned the key and I watched all the
interlocking parts mesh with one another. You slowly reversed
and it was like an assembly line whose end result was the very next beginning.
Then you nudged the
car forward, and all parts inverted at your command.
It was one of those
"this will all be
yours someday" moments, not that ancient car itself but the thought that went
into it. For once, it was the
head's turn to lead though the heart was well represented.
The eldest decides
she's her own whole picture and not just a piece in a family jigsaw.
Many small things
she can no longer endure. Many small people
likewise. She wants her own
room, and not have to share with her sister. She's forever
pulling on her shoes and rushing out the door.
Her mother fears
the male probing bell-flower for nectar. Her father knows how
it messily ends though he can only blurt out the usual inanities.
Still, she might
survive or even be safe if she's smart enough. But the slightest
error can repay a thousand-fold. Her parents clearly
remember the blessed hell of marrying earlier than they'd planned.
The eldest reckons
on being a woman from hereon. She'll lie on the
beach in her bikini. She'll flash her
false ID just like her friends. She'll look like a
made-up minnow but talk like a big fish.
Others reckon it's a
stage with four horses and a driver. She reckons it's a
stage with a spotlight and an audience.
Morning combines the
usual ingredients: yard under a sheet of bright light, sun through glass
pecking at floorboards like a bird's beak, a rug resuming its colors, a
steaming cup on a kitchen table.
There could be email
tucked into the crevices of her computer hutch. Or fingers hovering
over a telephone dial somewhere on the east coast., uncertain if she's awake.
Even a letter - a
blue-lined anachronism with creased pages - could be bouncing around the
backroom of the local post office.
But, for now, it's
just her and the roses, the laurel hedge, blue and white curtains, some
chattering sparrows and a raucous Stellar's Jay,
People are like an
alternate sunrise that hasn't quite happened yet.
Besides, her time is
bright and clearing. Who knows what
weather wreaks on other dawns. She sips her coffee.
Her solitude doesn't