The Mysterious Carcass

The fisherman bolted, across the bay,

where lay a blasted shore.

And spied, from windswept distance,

a shape from Neptune’s floor.

A beast some hundred feet in length,

azure-black upon the sand.

Relief, for it was spent of strength.

But none to call to hand.

Aghast, the man returned to town,

spreading word far and wide:

“Upon the beach, beneath the gulls,

a sea monster has died.”

Quick were tongues to relay the tale,

and upon a tractor they relied.

to tow the carcass, which they discovered,

was nought but timber, tarped and tied.

In the halls of Khaerrezal

Beneath the lake, a shimmering lair:

a hallowed house, of starless sky.

Therein, athwart a darkening stair,

on muses’ bone, The Lord did lie.

Dimensionless, yet swiftly twined,

round foundations, weakly braced;

crushing all to worthless rind,

that gave to His ravenous haste.

His seat, a cromlech of gods,

His scepter, a chasm of heart;

crowned clad in amber odds,

high spheres cower to His art.

Hear now his multifarious subjects,

who from chitinous shade decant,

their aspects to dream an annex,

and with swelling fervor chant:

He is the wind beneath the lake.

Key to hidden door.

He is the storm that endless breaks.

The iron in the ore.

Cartographers

Hail to the land-sea bridgers,

who on icy bosoms made their bed.

To the riders of the stinging foam,

by Venus’ boon was Neptune tread.

To the wringers of Ceres’ womb,

who conjured loaves of steaming bread,

to feed the craftsmen of many a tomb,

and so inter the valiant dead.

Though their dark rest be eternal,

in Vesta’s arms, their final peace;

of them, there lingers kernels,

clarion dreams that never cease.

Their gifts echo as from a well,

swelling with music, as ink and line;

now the map fills with precious stars

and by their lights we’ll boldly shine.

A brumal kiln

In privation, I am no dolorous Sappho,

to, in warm frenzy, tear at my breast;

her whose wild-leaping ardor to lasso,

cast herself from a kestrel’s nest.

More wyrmlike am I, and writhing

and so from fallen idyll strayed,

to coax cruel tongues to cinder,

in malfest pits thy body made.

Hades would elide the geistly aspect,

to which my rushing venom’s poured;

to gore more than its sin can deflect,

that mazy torments may be scored.

Nameless thou shalt be in this mission,

of liniments, unworthy, even of shame;

in the algid kiln of attrition,

thou shalt feed a boreal flame.

Cogwork for Atropos

Black cavity, black cavity,

the nature of Nature, as such.

a yawning, oarless shoal extends,

pearls without number to clutch.

Bright anima, bright anima,

the center of soma, indeed.

Fire phalanx to the horizon,

cold pinions the Moirai shall feed.

For nothing is inextricable,

with sufficient pouring sand.

In the long and red-swept distance,

all things are brought to hand.

The arcer

He speaks of compassion, more frequent than most,

often such bleating takes the form of a boast.

He proclaims to know always what right hill to climb,

though reaches be misted, by the grand arc of time.

Is it his eyes are of some special grade,

that penetrates what to all the rest is mere shade?

No answer is given, and should it be sought,

the querist by crowd shall relentless be fought.

For he knows what is just, for man, one and all,

so declares, every hitherto metric must fall.

“One can not scribe what is good, what is bad,

One’s opinion is all that there is to be had.

This is, of course, as I’m sure you’d agree,

the simplest of facts, how can one not see?”

A Castle Crawls

A grand castle crawls on manifold legs,

abrading green shroud to distil the dregs.

On smouldering spire, impresario stands,

face palled by metal, extending his hands.

“Carve a new ocean, drain the old sea,

bone of the mountain, come unto me.

Give shape to the form, by pulp yet confined,

freed, so to mantle, all vector and line.”

Haute Horlogerie

From slime to iron, far prophets portend,

a mind-rending game, of rules with(out) end.

But not all said measures have rigid appeared;

and what can be bent must surely be sheared.

The clatter and clacking, the hissing of steam,

the dutiful scratching of pencil and seam;

the tapping of anvils, the ticking of clocks,

the apt tinker thrills, as the master, he stalks.

Heir Apocryphal

To paltry peerage, a child born,
the union foul, kin’s honor shorn.
Unmantled, the babe was left to die,
yet the mother tended not His cry.
Monody steeped the harlot’s stair,
far from the father’s parget chair.
Yet loss and ague, wind and rain,
could find no purchase in His frame.
Grown to a man, learnt was the name,
So sought bequest, by blood His claim.
Athwart a steed of purest white,
in gleaming plate of moon’s own light,
He led a fusilier band of no reknown,
Them drawn by will, to honor bound.
Swift were the gates then overthrown,
The father rent from pallid throne.
The mother chained in the darkened heart,
of the pit from whence she learnt her art.
Unmarred was He by the battle won,
The barony clad in man and sun.
Yet He could not his title claim.
Til worth was proved to the king who reigned.
And so He rode toward the north,
Where massed the raiders brutal force.
Few knew true the king’s intent,
That the scion should die by no trouble spent.
Yet by providence, or His cunning will,
He routed the horde, unsullied still.
At band’s return, crowds gathered round,
The king aghast, fell plans unwound.
Thus a diadem was set on bastard brow,
and the swelling host did there avow,
with lances raised and banners high:
“All hail Avarr, who never shall die.”

Old People On The Beach

by John Grey

Squawk of gulls 

as the wind of other days 

blows off the ocean rolls, 

and a blankness  

wells up on the horizon. 

The past is gone. 

Terns slant their wings 

parallel to holes in cliff wall. 

The pounding of the shore  

goes on and on. 

The coastline that was and sea 

is now one darkness. 

Even Spring  

is particular in what it renews. 

Some merely live the life 

of least resistance.  

Rising over the dunes, 

a solitary figure  

frames in falling light 

then disappears down the other side. 

From nowhere to no place, 

retreating flocks  

come home. 


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Orbis, Dalhousie Review and the Round Table. His latest books, “Leaves On Pages” and “Memory Outside The Head” are available through Amazon.