The Brief

By John Grey

I move to Providence where my expressions peel like crepe.

That must be the reason. Having used up all other excuses.

There’s a woman. My desire’s enough to burn me into the picture.

Yes, that’s us. The fabled pair. I’m the one in the weeds.

 Joined like sea and shore but then there’s always tides to consider.

And erosion of course. Like a smile at sad memories.

This isn’t like the bottom of a clear pond where you can see the pebbles.

It’s not easy. Nothing connected ever is.

I feel like the lowest of the low paying the highest compliment.

But I’m neither muskrat nor watercress,

just a fertile mind trying to sociable,

for the first time in my life, unknown at my extremities.

And I have with me one of the earliest photograph in a dust-covered album

two lovers turned into squabbling pelicans by a witch.

The color brown studded to the east side hills.

The rhythm of legs climbing hills. Or stumbling down them.

The texture of canvas and oil, books and gingham.

Coffee, a university building, Edgar Allen Poe’s footsteps.

Someone shouting from the third floor,

“You’re shittin’ me right.” Time to move on.

I’ve seen you. We’ve had conversation. Happy? Not a bit.

Kids writing obscenities on walls. Fungus in the trees.

Sun so hot and dusk so sticky. An apartment just big

enough for the caterpillars that crawl across the sidewalk.

All have gone to bed now.  Skin grows a web between my toes.

I solve riddles not relationships. All my best loving done

on the streets at night, strolling with the shadows in my head.

But who believes that old anthem?  The cat choir doesn’t.

No union of opposites – states of mind aligning themselves

with stool pigeons – just a man, pro and con, hazy-

not yet prohibited in public places.

© 2020 John Grey

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