On his last painful walk
across his land,
he stopped for a moment
at the sight of something moving
on the far edge of the field,
a canine shape
but too big for a fox,
too small for a coyote
and, in the way it loped,
paused and raised its head
as if about to howl,
With air almost too humid for breathing
and Summer haze
watering the distances
and his weakening eyes
drawing back inside his head,
there was no way
he could see it clear.
But they stood there,
face to face,
neither willing to make the first move
to come closer.
They were like estranged lovers,
a father and son who hadn’t spoken in years,
something that needed to be done
and the someone who didn’t do it,
an opportunity and the one who didn’t take it.
It was his land.
And, most probably, it was his creature.
IS THERE ENOUGH TO PAINT A PICTURE?
The snails are crawling across the pathway
from weeds to blue star cultivar.
A spider creeps across the leaves.
I hover somewhere between work to be done
A fine drizzle says it’s April.
The birds trill courting songs.
1 believe the insects do as well.
I could seed the garden.
Or feel the fine drops on my cheeks.
Bees buzz down to business.
Embedded in paper huts,
it’s still not the wasps’ call.
The clouds are flat gray
but not ominous.
The water they spill is nimble.
It’s not a lovely scene.
That’s why I can go out into it
and get a job done
without fear of spoiling someone’s
oil on canvas.
But there’s enough there
to engage the heart,
to inform the brain,
that it’s not all about being useful.
A titmouse flies down to the feeder.
as if its sparkling cheery cry
will tilt the scales
to the side of wonderment.
but I’m spellbound by the attempt.
In a dark war-zone,
a snake crawls through
a trench of twigs and leaves
in search of hard rubbing implements
to scrape off its tired outer layer.
But the demon of many a mouse hole
is now a prey animal itself,
exposed by shafts of moonlight
in the land of the predator’s trained eye.
The reptile chafes against
the rough edge of a rock,
insect boudoirs of bark.
Anything to pry itself free from
three months’ worth of keratin.
A distant hoot of a great horned owl
sets off vibrations in the snake’s skull
but it still continues to grate and grind,
tiny sounds that implicate itself.
But instinct’s wired for life and death.
Survival doesn’t differentiate.
John Grey is an Australian born poet. Recently published in Oyez Review, Rockhurst Review and Spindrift with work upcoming in New Plains Review, Big Muddy Review, Willow Review and Louisiana Literature.