Warm-up Exercises

by John Grey


When lovers argue 

the air gets it in the neck 

dreams are full of such crackling currency 

but when I awake I can’t spend any of it 

lost love is like eating alone 

in a restaurant 

sipping the last of the wine 

while fish bones stare up at you 

a statue is the last stop 

on a long journey of made-up stuff – 

this figure in marble 

bears as much resemblance 

to real flesh and bone 

as a cushion does to a razor 

there are no more stage villains – 

nobody wears top hat and tails, 

flicks their moustache 

while tying women to railway tracks – 

these days, it’s tee shirt and shorts, 

a day’s growth around the chin 

and a back of the hand 

slapped hard against a woman’s cheekbone – 

ah, Snidely Whiplash, 

at least, the boos rained down on you 

river’s frozen, 

roads aren’t plowed, 

can’t get out my front door 

for the drifts – 

War and Peace 

this could be the day 

of Chapter One Page One 

I must have loved 

a thousand women 

and I ended up with one – 

there are some instances 

where math need not apply 

there’s an article here 

about this guy who found his wife in bed 

with another man – 

he divorced the wife 

and married the man – 

and then it’s on to the latest peace talks 

for more irony 

1 made a few phone calls 

sent emails 

even wrote a letter 

but it’s the same old same old – 

you still can’t go home again 

my fingers look up from the keyboard 

ask then why have you brought me here.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Examined Life Journal, Studio One and Columbia Review, with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.

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