AUTOBIOGRAPHY OR BUST
He stays up all night writing his autobiography.
Secretive and anonymous, the shadow within the shadow,
he hopes that his words can do what his life has not.
He smokes. He plays chess with details from his past.
He tells tales on himself. He primes himself for execution.
Bloated from clutter, the attic room looks like the insides of a horse.
He’s not passionate enough about sleep to bother with it.
It’s like bandstand music. It’s loud but he doesn’t really hear it.
He prefers the drugs and the coffee that take him to
the archipelagos in his head, the isles passionate, godlike, visionary,
lands where dwell the imaginary friends of his fierce solitude.
Their histories may be as frail as sunlight on bottle cap
but, in the midst of all this traffic, they are the only ones that matter.
First chapter is one child crying.
Chapter two is a garden hose writhing like a snake.
Chapter three is from a time when men and women lived apart.
Chapter four is spit from deep down in the lungs.
He stays up all night, an unholy man feeding off blank responses.
Sometimes, he’s the outsider crashing his own life.
Then he’s the steady overflow from the times that cannot hold him.
Or he’s upside down, his feet cruising the skylight.
Or the mystery to himself that’s mopping up the carnage.
He knows that, ultimately, he’s wasting all this blood on nothing.
That’s the beauty of all this sacrifice.
He’s a searchlight with pale, excitable hands.
He barely skims the waves.
The vessel is in danger. He knows it’s in there somewhere.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Evening Street Review and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Harpur Palate, Poetry East and Visions International.