November 28, 2018 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

Ev photo



John Grey




Home From The Homeless



The street’s barely tolerant

to those living on the margins –

derision in the glances,

hate rattling like snake coils.


Especially toward that one

who stops now and then,

listens to the voices in his head

for the latest information.


No sympathy toward

daily quandaries

about food to be scrounged

and cops to be avoided,

a place to sleep,

how to batten down

against the chill.


Here and there,

the words erupt –

“He knew what he was getting into” –

many a spectator

reliving his life for him,

the way it should have been led.


All in all,

they accept an explanation

that is beyond true,

a fantasy that clears them of all guilt.


Yes, this man will be cast aside someday.

But they won’t be the ones

doing the casting.


They’ll sleep without guilt.

Without rats,

for that matter.






That Kid Ricardo In My Class



If God had meant the Spanish to move in,

says the other Rick, then why’d He print the Bible all in English.

Rita’s at the window, chewing up the moving van

like it’s a heavy dinner.

Then she sees the brown face of her new neighbor.

The meal’s more spicy than she usually likes it.

Dave is in the bar, in the middle of

an alcohol-fumed fifteen minute monologue

about why some people

can’t stay in their own neighborhood,

or their own country.

So tell us what you really think,

laugh his drinking buddies.

His son, Dave junior,

is about to spray paint his first slogan

on the side of a house,

“Go home spick.”

His old man doesn’t bother to correct his spelling.


The new neighbors hack it for a month or two.

The daughters even make some friends at school.

The father’s a fireman… that must count for something.

But the mother doesn’t shop at the local supermarket

… too white-bread for her taste.

And the son’s a rough looking kid.

Sells drugs is the popular rumor.


So anyway, it’s mid-October, the trees are

at their pastel Fall finest and the “For Sale” sign appears

on the front lawn.

At least it’s in English, says Rick.

Rita’s still at the window, still chewing on any activity.

Caucasian prospective buyers are her appetizers.

Dave’s at the bar. He doesn’t even know

the family’s leaving. His monologue

hasn’t changed, it’s just doubled in length.

But Dave junior’s having second thoughts.

The youngest daughter looks like J-Lo.


But by December, the new neighbors are just old talk.

Many at school start missing Martina, Anita and Gabrielle.

The father’s still a fireman. It’s a year before

a burning roof collapses on him


The mother whips up meals like her

Guatemalan mother used to make

though her kids prefer McDonalds.

And the boy can’t get over how strangers

used to stare at him, taunt him some of them.

Now his feelings pick their scabs

in his first attempt at poetry,

a mere four lines.

As I read them, his body tenses, face squeezes up,

like he’s trying to hide inside

the words he’s written.

That’s poetry…a primitive shelter.

I sit safely behind mine,

observing through the tiny slats.

He rubs against his own raw edges,

as if that’s how to stop the bleeding.






John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Perceptions and the anthology, No Achilles with work upcoming in Big Muddy Review, Gargoyle, Coal City Review and Nebo.

Editor review

1 Comment

  1. Thriveni C Mysore November 29, at 05:26

    Poignant. I am surprised to know that there are poor people in developed countries. Excellent poetry.


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