The lazy man writes

Sure tomorrow is coming and uncharted

but it doesn’t allow for my damaged willpower.

At least, when it comes to these sagging bones,

it is aware but just can’t bother to tell.

 

Sure I plan to do as many things as are possible

but this body will not have anything to do with that.

Then I slump down with this shapeless couch

where we can break all of our promises together

 

I’m at home alone, away from those

who would test my vows repeatedly,

who would attempt to program me

into doing something useful with my time.

 

My failures once kept me awake but no longer do.

What they lack in quality, they gain in overall climate.

So sleep has become this dry run for death.

It is totally worthless as a source for new dreams.

 

I had such great plans when I was young.

I was going to be an astronaut and a movie star.

I grew up at a time when anything was possible.

It’s a great relief that now nothing is.

 

By John Grey

 

 

2018 Winners' Anthology Available on Amazon

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Purchase it here.

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The Path

As I walked the Prairie Path early one evening (around 7:30 I believe), I saw the sights that by now were beyond familiar to me. You see, I walked this same path most evenings around this same time.  Dinner was over, and I had no desire to sit mindlessly in front of the television.  I always chewed not one but two sticks of gum while I walked, and I noted that my chewing action and my steps kept perfect time.

And as I strolled, I saw them.  The dentist engrossed in his smartphone while walking his white and black pug; I imagined he was either watching episodes of that TV series “Deadly Dentists”, or looking at x-rays of the teeth and gums of the patients he would see tomorrow.  The young mother (Kathy was her name) pushed her son in a stroller slightly ahead of me; I watched as her ponytail swung side to side with each step, for unlike me, she did not stroll – this was exercise for her.  I saw the blue house with the two identical front doors side by side (not French doors you see; each of these doors was fully framed and had a doorknob on the same side – the right).  I imagined that each of these doors led to a different era in the life of the house, a time warp of sorts.  Maybe one day I would stop and test my theory. Continue reading “The Path”

Saying something

There is a lot to be said for saying nothing. It is a secret that the sterile air in the hospital room knew all too well as it scratched against my eyelashes like a wind in tall grass, glossing over the previous occupants. The white sheets, crumpled and depressed, betraying the intended look of cleanliness.

‘Winnie. Winnie, wake up,’ the nurse said from behind the white-washed tunic as he guided a wheelchair through the door with a serviced tone, like his vocal chords had been dipped in honey and enrolled on a people-skills course before being installed. And yet quite impersonal, I thought.

‘We are just going to take you down to theatre, my love,’ he said, half looking at her, and half herding her like a commodity he was used to dealing with. ‘Let’s get you up,’ he continued, practically unfolding her from the mattress. Continue reading “Saying something”

Ancient Mariner

Standing about Saul Soderberg’s bed this early in the morning could only be pensive doctors or nurses on a mission.  He refused at first to open his eyes.  From the medical gibberish, a dizzying onslaught, especially that early in the day, the sacramental palaver could only be coming from someone with a medical degree.  With his eyes still closed he tried to remember exactly where he was, and to what end.  He opened his left eye to find the doctors, all in lab coats as white and unblemished as an orchid, listing over the left side of his bed.  One introduced himself as Feldman, an attending physician in the neurological department of Beth Israel Hospital.  Both eyes opened.  He pulled his bed sheet to his chin.  “Do you know why you’re here?”  The rest of the doctors stood about the circumference of his bed looking a generation younger than Feldman.  Looking at him as though he was an inchoate being, they said nothing, merely observing. Continue reading “Ancient Mariner”

This way

Hotel

The hotel is haunted, or so the old man tells me. I feel out of place here, a place where there are two weddings today and the architecture is dazzling and where it seems like I’ve stepped back in time. All I have with me is my backpack, yellow with flower patches sewn on it. There’s a sign that says “Observation Deck, 52nd Floor” in neat handwriting near the elevator. I press the elevator button. A woman comes to stand with me, her face young and round, wearing 1930s dress and a wistful smile.

“Are you going up to the deck?” she asks me.

I nod and fiddle with my backpack straps.

“It’s a nice view.”

The car gets there then, and I don’t have to make any more conversation. I think about why I am here. Two days ago, I decided that I was tired of everything in this world and that the best place to go was Chicago, and the best thing to do was to book a hotel room in an old hotel, and all I needed with me was my backpack.

This was likely a poor idea. Continue reading “This way”

Bobbing

Ocean

I’m bobbing in blue waters,

legs kicking below,

arms paddling in place,

nostrils sucking up the salty air.

This is what it’s like to live alone.

I can choose to stay out here,

far from shore,

for as long as I like.

Or I can swim back to shore,

join the mob on the beach,

none of whom know me.

 

Eventually, it’s back to my rooms.

Here, my solitude is tested.

I’ve no ocean swell to lift me,

no warmth and light to back me up.

If I look around, there’s nobody there.

If I speak, I get no response.

Would I appreciate a pair of lips

pressing to mine?

How about a head to flop atop my shoulder?

At the beach,

there are so many ways to have a good time.

In my apartment.

I’d be happy if there was one.

I’ve been in those waters for the past year or so.

I’m still bobbing.

 

By John Grey

 

 

2018 Winners' Anthology Available on Amazon

The paperback version is now available for $10 US.

Purchase it here.

Or, you can buy the e-book for only $4.19 US here.

The bull in the china shop

China shop

(Aries and Taurus)

It was October 31, 2019,

Halloween, and Mercury was in

retrograde. A woman sat in her china

shop in Spain, hoping she’d get no business

so she could close early.

She ate tuna fish sandwiches,

smothering them with butter with

a butcher knife.

A tourist walked in, and it

was obviously an American tourist.

She was obese, well-fed, and dressed

in a sunflower dress. She had shopping

bags, and she put her greasy hands

on the merchandise.

“If you break it, you pay

for it,” sighed the merchant. Continue reading “The bull in the china shop”

The Sea Wolf Cup

Chair

Captain Graham was uncomfortable. He disliked London clubs, but here he was, drinking tea in one. Moreover, he was sitting opposite Colonel Child, a man he always hoped to avoid.

“Glad you could come,” Child said.

As if I could refuse, Graham thought. I can hardly ignore the man who was my commanding officer in the Military Mounted Police.

“Now that I’ve retired from the army,” Child continued, “I run my family’s insurance business. Among our policies, we insure the Sea Wolf Cup, one of the silver trophies of the London Guards regiment. It’s a very valuable item dating from the seventeenth century.” Child puffed at a cigar and looked straight at Graham. “And it’s gone missing.”

“A costly claim for your company, sir,” Graham commented.

“Not if the cup is found and returned,” Child replied.

When Graham said nothing, Child leaned forward. “Look, you’ve been a retired army investigator for almost a year. Since Christmas 1908, wasn’t it? You should use your skills. Finding the cup is just the job for you.”

“Is it, sir?”

“Yes, and don’t delay. I’ve told Colonel Strong of the London Guards to expect you today.” Continue reading “The Sea Wolf Cup”

Death comes to Happy Valley

Mountain range

The soft January sun was slowly slipping behind the distant glacier-covered mountain range.  The range surrounded the Sukh Marg (Happy Valley in English) in Northern India.  On the other side, the region with same namesake belonged to neighboring Pakistan.  For millennia, this sub-continent was inhabited by a peaceful civilization.  Then the colonial power appeared on the horizon and ruled the place for two centuries.  At the end, they would disappear in a midnight, leaving the land divided on a map, without any thought of future consequences.  The larger parcel retained the name India, a secular country with the majority practicing Hinduism.  The rest became Pakistan, a religious country, the majority practicing Islam.  Overnight, Sukh Marg also got divided on that map.  However, each country had wanted the entire valley for its strategic location.  Thus it became a flash point between neighbors.  And nothing changed in the past seventy years. Continue reading “Death comes to Happy Valley”

Not good enough for Jamie

Ambulance

It was midnight when Kerry Ford was rushed into the emergency room unconscious because of a drug overdose. Doctors and nurses tried to save him, but Kerry was gone, and a doctor went to the waiting room to his mother, father and older brother, Alan, and they stood when they saw the doctor. “Folks, I’m sorry. We couldn’t save him,” the doctor said sadly.  When his mother heard the words, she gasped, had a heart attack and fell to the floor, dead.

After the funeral for Kerry and his mother, Alan and his father went home and sat at the kitchen table. “Alan, what kind of evil monsters took my boy and your mother from us?” he asked with tears in his eyes.

“Girls, Dad.  He told me they never stopped taunting him, calling him names. He said it never stopped. They said he was trailer trash, and made fun of us. They made fun of you because you work in a factory. The evil monsters were girls; Jamie Carr and her friends.” Continue reading “Not good enough for Jamie”