At first, it was my brand-new bike
she fell for.
Red as the lipstick she would someday wear -
not a trace of acne.
Its chrome shimmering.
No loss for words
when it came to the opposite sex.
Then my first car
was the love of her sixteen-year old life.
It was only second hand
but it sure did make her braces gleam.
For a time,
she didn’t even mind
the clang of the engine,
the crackle and spit of the car radio.
But then she drifted
to some other guy’s brand new Chevy
and I didn’t win her back until
I was working,
dumped more than I could ever afford
into a hot off the lot Ford Mercury.
She was hooked.
At least, until a Caddy stole her away.
To this day,
I do not mock her sincerity.
I too was hooked on bike
and cars, both old and new.
And I was never attracted to her as much
as I was to the way she was attracted to me.
We were both accessories.
The vehicles were going places.
We were along for the ride.
Blind Man Reports to Work
Eye color can’t be used as an excuse
but other-earthly sidetracks are allowed.
Like sighs nobody else can hear.
Or detected scents worthy of a hound dog.
Or touch a lover can only dream of.
In other words,
with your woman in your arms.
So you’re five minutes late.
Time to taste the day’s routine.
Are you weary of war?
Would you like to be my girlfriend?
Do you trust?
In general? In people?
Or just in certain ones
and could I be part of that naive faith?
Are you tired of seeing
the sunken faces of soldiers
staring bleary-eyed at TV cameras
while the shooting goes on around them?
We could stay up late talking instead.
Getting cozy, giggling even.
We could even discuss the possibility
of making this permanent.
Are you bored with generals?
Have you witnessed enough
to last a lifetime?
I don’t even believe in the battle of the sexes.
To me, man and woman
start out as a truce
and it gets better from there.
I don’t march in line.
I slouch around.
I don’t wear a uniform.
A tattered old bathrobe will do me.
I’m not trained to kill.
I’ve never even been in boot-camp.
I’m just too empathetic
to have a bitter enemy.
So pour the wine.
Let’s drink a toast to ourselves.
So what if that vintage is the color of blood.
It was fermented, not spilled.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Sin Fronteras, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty with work upcoming in Plainsongs, Willard and Maple and Connecticut River Review.