Three Poems from John Grey



She lies there in the street,

emitting green smoke through the pores in her skin.

No one dares come near.

That gaseous substance has such a rancid smell.

And, worse than that, it could be poisonous.

Someone does call 911

but the cops and rescue workers keep their distance.

This is a job for Hazmat.

And, soon enough, a team in all white,

with hoods over their faces like beekeepers,

are on the scene.

They spray the woman up and down,

then whisk her away in a van.

People go about their business

though they avoid the spot where she was found.

The witnesses check the news,

on television and online,

even thumb through newspapers.

but there is no mention of the woman

and her mysterious condition.

It is as if she had never existed.

There was no woman.

No green smoke.

The cops, the rescue, Hazmat

weren’t called in.

Those who thought they saw

were merely under some kind of mass hypnosis…

caused, no doubt,

by the green smoke.





This planet hates me.

Its thin air despises my lungs and bloodstream.

Its rough ground takes its abhorrence out

on my feet and ankles.

I am surprised with how vehement

its attitude is toward me,

with its sudden blinding dust squalls,

relentless quakes, a sun hot enough to bruise.

This is not the usual planet

whose soil I scrape, whose samples I bag.

This is a lump of invidious rock,

an atmosphere that’s a bully one moment,

a brutal killer the next.

I mean it no harm.

This is just an expedition.

Nothing lives on this place,

so I won’t be wiping out civilizations

with a throat infection.

I’m merely here to bag up some stuff,

give it a name,

and fly on to Nesarius IV.

But it’s raining fireballs,

plate-shifting beneath.

I knew a woman like that once.

She’s the reason I took this job.






We stand watch

at the viewscreens

of our ship.


the ice is melting,

great chunks

falling from hill crests,

and patches of snow

mutating into puddles.

My second-in-command

already thinks ahead

to blooming trees,

flowers bursting with color,

as if it was an Earth spring outside.

Why not blue iris in the marshes,

a purple tangle of Queen Anne’s lace,

goldenrod spreading mustard

across the fields.

But it’s the boogooras

who’ll emerge from

their deep caverns in the cliff.

For there are only two seasons here

on Krakazon:


and look out, Captain,

more boogooras.



About the Author: John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in That, Dunes Review, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Thin Air, Dalhousie Review and failbetter.

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