Volume 2 Number 4


Autumn 2004


John Grey

The old man in the trench coat
no longer stands sentry
on the corner of Porter and Brown.
He is this generation's Elvis,
the sum of fleeting glimpses,
of every-day resurrections
in the super-market aisle,
on a park bench.

Like all bodies,
he is the nagging, gawking thought
of how to dispose of the corpse
even when there are no corpses.
Like all mislaid pieces,
he is the puzzle laid bare.

Like all vague vagabond men
sacrificed to the mongrel god
of a particular lamp-post,
his absence is
the dark giving me the high-sign,
the void with an unhappy happy-face.

Like the women, like the birds,
he is more there when not there.
Like the quiet scarlet cancer troll
spat into me by that last cigarette,
or the pain in my gut
explaining to my nerve
the cruel rot of aging flesh.

If he chose to sing,
his voice would be the bestial choir
of refrigerator hum.
If he were in this room,
he'd be the crumpled Coke can in my hand.

Maybe he was simply hoisted up
by the remnants of his wrists
and crucified to the nearest church cross.
So whispers the flicker of my eye-lids.

But people come and go, after all.
In cabs. In tiny pieces. In fluid red boxes.
And I struggle like knotting a tie
with a vision of the swaying puppet string
of childhood.

He might be only a bas-relief of my convoluted moods.
He could be a moment from now
looking at this one
in a kind of barbaric stupor.
Perhaps, after all, he is the ferryman
plying his bobbing trade back and forth
across the flagging currents
of my wrist-veins.