Upon Your Arrival & Beyond

by John Grey

The people of America 

go crazy – 

from fishing folk of the Maine coast 

to the California 

surfing crowd – 

a baby emerges from a deaf-mute’s womb 

and it’s still not promiscuous 

or willing to kill for a living. 

It is watched over by old names 

and new slatterns. 

Character is born 

just like that baby 

but with its own blood spilled, 

not the mothers’. 

Being bathed continually in filth helps. 

Job or first love – 

numbing terror is not the same as emotion 

until it is. 

Sadly, a woman being choked 

to death by the rough hands 

of a stranger 

cannot answer your twenty questions – 

luckily, the default in every case 

is “false.” 

And then there’s marriage, 

a rash dash 

and without cash – 

three children are raised 

by the state – 

on a cross to be crucified 

as it so happens. 

So a house in the suburbs it is – 

but what about the hundred foot giant 

trudging through the neighborhood 

planting the seeds of strip malls?

A water-pipe bursts – 

the truth emerges – 

rats too can drown – 

they’re just not in it for the water sports. 

Everyone is ungainly at ocean’s edge. 

You toddle like you’re ten thousand pounds overweight. 

Fat red flesh predominates. 

You’re prisoner of the economic climate. 

If the deal falls through, 

you can always go back to bathing in filth. 

The mind fantasizes 

over hedge fund managers 

in a great Wall Street extravaganza 

that’s been sent to destroy you. 

It is only in secluded places, 

far from the trained eye of the television camera, 

where anything of sense is being said. 

And there’s nobody 

to speak up – 

and, to make things worse – 

the car’s not an automatic – 

at no time in your life 

were you instructed 

how to drive a manual. 

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.