Mr. Anonymous ~ Is inspired by one or two similar calls I've had in the past. In this case, I've just changed the main character and embellished the situation all in the name of poetic license.
On A Day In Steel Town ~ Is inspired more from reading than by any place I've lived. There's a price to pay for living in a heavily industrialized country. And some of that price is the way industries can pull up stakes without notice and leave their workers in the lurch.
Coffee House, Saturday Afternoon ~Is reflective of how much time I've spent in coffee houses over the years, how many poetry readings I've attended and how willing many of those readers were to totally expose yheir insides in print.
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.
She says there's
been more of these anonymous calls, always late at night when she's half
asleep, answers the phone with hand and ear on automatic pilot. Hello, she
drones, but there's just silence, then some heavy breathing, exaggerated,
because surely no one, not even in the heat of passion, makes noise like that.
She wonders why she
listens for as long as she does, and why eventually she curses... damn you,
damn you, and worse. Her friends say,
hang up on the bastard. But she'd rather
make this kind of blistering contact. take her revenge, a verbal punch-up with
no opponent but that guttural blasphemy of breathing. In fact, she swings
away until the other end cries mercy with a click, sends in a dial tone second.
She wins the round
but the next night, Mister Anonymous
calls again. She figures that's
the way it is with losers. They're never at a
Nest fallen to the
ground. Parent birds circle, weep for a time, but then dart off to another
fork in another tree to begin again. This is a small
grove of trees at the edge of a steel town, the little greenery that survived
the coming of the slag heaps. Dave's father has
cancer of the lung. A brief
period of mourning follows as chemo strips him of his hair and body. But no
matter. A man can always
be a father himself, chuckle over bow healthy babies are. Even with the sky
buckled by storms overhead, an old man moaning in the next room, and a brother
breaking into a dentist's practice and sniffing nitrous oxide. And Dave's
found a good woman to replace his mother. And a better job so
even when they finally nail his brother for that convenience store holdup, the
family average will be living, lower middle class, out on parole. And a town
itself is hemorrhaging jobs at a rate to rival the great depression. But for
everyone laid off there's someone in a southern city's being hired. Life goes
on. It's America. Even a
whole state out of work's no big deal when there's another forty nine. And
there's a guy takes a shotgun into the woods, points it at his head and pulls
the trigger. Would you believe he misses. No wonder he was
among the first to be let go. He goes home chastened. The bullet knocks a
nest of chicks out of a tree.