—Photos Courtesy of Public Domain
Yes, I hear the noise at midnight,
something scratching on my bedroom door.
No whimper, no howl,
just that infernal noise,
nails on wood,
over and over and over.
So many ways to get to my fitful sleep:
the open window, the closet,
the dark beneath the bed,
so why the only route that's barred,
why that scrape of dire frustration,
that rip, that tear,
that merely scuffs the solid oak.
So what kind of creature are you?
A giant rat? A wolf? A rabid feline? Maybe,
I squeeze under the sheets, imagining these
Truth is, something's been
scratching on the membranes of my mind.
As you can tell,
I let it in months ago.
Sixty years on,
and you still dream
of high-school finals,
that fear of failure.
But other nights,
it’s supplanted by
that episode with a boy named Terry,
the one whose body was never found.
The questions on the paper
Your pencil breaks.
Your brow sweats uncommonly.
But that patch of earth, in Graby’s Wood,
where Terry is buried, lies undisturbed.
The proctor grows horns.
The clock on the wall spins frantically.
But that Terry dream is so serene,
as you balance on your shovel,
congratulate yourself on a job well done.
The alarm clock rings
and the schoolroom fades
with the morning sun.
Relieved, you stumble out of bed.
Meanwhile, dozers are razing Graby’s Wood,
and the earthmovers are standing by.
Those invidious finals
are about to become the good dream.
TWENTY-FIFTH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY
and if not for the blood-soaked dagger
dangling from your hand,
no different from the woman
I long ago fell in love with
when I saw you for the first time
in the city park
setting fire to a squirrel’s tail.
Such perfect cheekbones still,
and hair with barely a trace of gray.
and what grace.
It’s like ballet,
the way you pirouette
around the body on the kitchen floor.
I will admit
that I feel more love for you
when you’re in my arms
than when I burst in on you like this
as you’re disemboweling the handyman.
But I took you for better or worse.
So far so good.
You’re better than I ever expected.
And the worst has been happening to
THE MOBILE MAN
When you hit the accelerator,
you’ll soon know
how dumb you are.
At your velocity,
be prepared for takeoff
In your mind,
the combustion engine,
and the screaming exhaust.
When they find you,
wrapped around an oak trunk,
there’ll be no
piecing you back together.
not the way you were originally.
Instead, they can just
string up various body parts
to what remains of your skeleton.
And then, having conquered speed,
you can reinvent the bone dance.
Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
―Cyril Connolly, The New Statesman, February 25, 1933
—Medusa, welcoming John Gray back and thanking him for today’s magical poetry—a whiff of Halloween as we finish up September! John first visited the Kitchen on April 13, 2023.
Northern California and otherwheres,
UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS
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of spirits huddled
under the briars~
quail family coos
its soft goodnights