|Poetry by John Grey, Stanley Wilkin
|The Past is Present
By John Grey
The stately Victorian
no longer occupies the hilltop.
In its stead
stands something ugly and modern.
I wonder how much
the people who live there know.
I remember a long-ago night,
when sirens cried out
as loud as the screams
that no one heard,
and cars descended like metal flies
on the bloody bare skin
of the man and his hatchet
as he stumbled out of his front door.
I doubt the new house
No place built this century ever is.
But there was once this grand home
with garrets and keystone,
and oculus windows
and cornice and pilasters.
And the owner went crazy,
chopped his loving family to bits.
There’s nothing to see
in its current setting.
But I know from my nightmares
what I don’t know from anywhere else.
|To read other short stories,
click one of the titles below.
|About John Grey
John Grey is an Australian poet,
US resident, recently published
in Soundings East, Dalhousie
Review and Connecticut River
Review. Latest book, “Leaves
On Pages” is available through
|About Stanley Wilkin
By John Grey
Don’t act so surprised.
It’s not the first time
the garden of a woman’s womb
has sprouted belladonna
and not roses.
She has your eyes
but not your heart,
your full red lips,
but not your good intentions.
For now, she cries
when she us hungry.
But there’ll come a time,
when cravings are
to the hunt.
|Halloween: The Night of the Sheep
By Stanley Wilkin
From Halloween’s darkening centre the farmer’s sheep
Wake, open their glimmering eyes, and move effortlessly
Around the fields shaking their haunted heads
In confusion. Their baas like griffin roars in the still
Cold night. They stand on freshly cloven hooves
And in practised phalanxes steadily move
Opening and closing gates with thoughtfulness.
Clomp, clomp. Shoulder to shoulder, they head for town.
On this night, the town’s nervous citizens
Shut their shutters firmly, bar their thick wooden doors,
Extinguish the candlelight. They gather their guns
And wait as the clomping sound comes nearer
And the ghastly baas becomes a grim crescendo.
The moon becomes a ghostly silver ball,
During Halloween, pock marked and sallow,
Filling the reshaped land with its reflected rays
Bouncing off the cold white wool, demon halos
In the lunatic beams. Clomp, clomp as a single mass they
Flood the town square, gather by the fountain before the cypress
Trees like dead soldiers on a battlefield,
Baaing in unison, their glimmering eyes empty like the dead,
Seeking as one.
Fear paralyses the townsfolk, their bladders burst;
Baa! The attackers bleat together and seek their prey.
Mrs Sands was concealed within a laundry basket
Standing unceremoniously in her hall. Clomp, clomp
They came across her newly-built patio, their teeth chewing at the wood.
For effect and exercise. The sheep bury their heads
Within the basket, pulling out the plump
Protesting woman and rend her toe by toe. Her floral
Dress floating above their frenzied forms, lamb turned into mutton.
Clomp, clomp, baa, baa, their menacing sounds travelled far.
Their victim’s screams fused the Halloween air
As they ate their way through dentist, baker, tailor, baby and bride,
Leaving not a morsel unchewed, stopping only as the morning
Drew near. As dawn breaks they begin
Marching together back to the farm, shoulder to shoulder,
Muzzle to muzzle, their incarnadine wool
Beaming in the rich rays of the morning sun.
The gates swinging open they return and lay down on the grass.
Exhausted and full, they sleep.
A hundred townsfolk survived the woolly onslaught,
Mainly young men who could run astoundingly fast,
And as the sun soared over the horizon like the burning
Flares of revenge, with clubs, axes and guns shoulder to shoulder
Silently climbed the blood soaked hill, faces tight and grim.
Pulling the gates open, slipping into the field steadfastly slaying the
Sleeping sheep. They crush their heads, slit their throats,
Shoot them, stab them, beat them to death, club them,
Hang them, eviscerate them, shear them and burn them.
Never again would each Halloween the sheep invade,
Driven to murder like Roman legions advancing over a cliff.
Never again! Marching down the blood covered rocky hill
As the gleaming eyes of the chomping cows watched them and,
As only cows can, they smiled.
|The Man Who Cannot Sleep
By John Grey
I cannot sleep.
Not with the wind-blown shutters
applauding my foulness
and the moon
grinning through the clouds
How can I sleep?
Not with so many last words
ringing in my ears
and the ones who spoke them
buried to a standstill
in the fresh soil of my gardens.
I am as restless as the devils,
shackled by guilt one moment,
released by craving the next.
Oh I have loved
these hostages I take.
But I adore the ritual more.
And I have been loved.
Lately by you,
the one in the bed beside me.
I cannot sleep.
You’re deep in dreams.
My hands are restless.
My head is spinning.
What it is I feel
is no longer safe with me.