Circumstance – John Grey

The vivid scenes created in the poems John submitted to us were powerful for all of us to read. We will be sharing a total of two poems from him, the first today and the second tomorrow. We hope you feel just as transported as we did. Enjoy.


When her son was conceived,

the lake wore its starry sparklers,

the moon was pancake shaped, 

and a cool breeze blew in through

the open windows of her boyfriend’s car.

She was seventeen, naïve,

and sprawled across the lumpy backseat 

of a second-hand Chevy,

cramped, uncomfortable,

but not complaining,

not when so much talk of love

had preceded the spreading of her legs.

Her life was going nowhere anyhow.

Her grades didn’t cry out, “College bound!”

The town was small.

And the night seemed as anxious to get on with it

as her boyfriend’s probing hands,

his amateurish thrusting.

When the son was born,

it was like there no longer was a lake

or a moon or a breeze.

And no sign of her boyfriend’s car.

Nor of him either.

She was stuck at home

under her father’s glare

and her mother’s distressed happiness –

the lovely grandchild,

the daughter no better than a whore.

But such a smile that baby had.

Until it caught up with its own circumstance.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in That, Dalhousie Review and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in Qwerty, Chronogram and Clade Song.

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