WHAT THEY DIDN’T SEE
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.
MARIA AS NESARIUS III
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,
I knew a woman like that once.
She’s the reason I took this job.
SEASONS ON KRAKAZON
We stand watch
at the viewscreens
of our ship.
the ice is melting,
falling from hill crests,
and patches of snow
mutating into puddles.
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
and look out, Captain,
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.