May 12, 2022 | Writing

“The Moth Invasion,” “Grand Canyon,” and “Selective Memory”


brown rock formation under white clouds during daytime

“The Moth Invasion,” “Grand Canyon,” and “Selective Memory”


Three new poems by Australian writer John Grey.

The Moth Invasion

A dense cloud of moths
cavorts crazily
around streetlamps,
flaps against the windows
of the bars, the tenements,
evades, but just,
the swatting hands
of people on the sidewalk.

It’s an invasion of weakness,
of fragile bodies
and underwhelming wings,
hordes of lesser creatures
infesting the light
that superior beings have installed
to shine on themselves.

And now folks can’t see,
can’t walk in peace,
can’t sit in silence.

Yet, our good lives,
we’ve always known,
have been at the expense of others.

But moths?
Those fluttering, flying pests?

All that naphthalene,
all that camphor –
cause for revenge perhaps.
But not here.
Not now.
This is just
attraction to our glow.

Grand Canyon

I’m here for meditation
on the splendors of creation
but the kids are more intent
on seeing how far they can toss a rock.

The Rio Grande has been carving
out this canyon for eons
but brats born in the last decade
don’t give a damn for that,
love nothing more than
chasing ground squirrels,
screaming for soda,
teasing the mules.

Clouds cast shadows
over the creased face
of centuries.
Sun buffs the cliffs,
orange and amber.
But boys are more awed
by themselves
than nature.

They yell.
They fight.
They run.
They laugh,
And eons later,
here I am.

Selective Memory

Lovely, she says, the first good film in years.
And I don’t remember one frame of this “real thing,”
only that we burst out into the cold night air
with that word “lovely” on her lips and staying there
through the drive back to her place and two coffees
and Mingus on the stereo.
“Superb” she adds, from the comfort of her violet couch,
thus condemning ‘lovely’ to the waste-basket of words.
All I can reply is “good coffee,” “fine music”…
I still don’t remember the name of the film.
Something foreign I’m sure because I do recall
watching her mouth while reading the subtitles
halfway down her sweater, as our relationship matured
(coffee and Mingus were de rigueur in certain circles)
more than any lame-brained Hollywood
extravaganza of that era.
Strange how some details are more vulnerable than others.
Other times, the movie might stick with me
and the woman fade away like aftershave.
Or it could be just the coffee, hot, steamy,
rejuvenating my blood, defogging my head.
Or why not Mingus, intrepid bass notes
holding the song together with a moving target of glue.
“Wondrous” is her last word and I even kiss her for it.
And then back to the night, clear sky, a moon I can’t forget,
now what was that film, but the moon, full and yellow…
salute the maestro

Discover more work by John Grey.
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