Poetry by John Grey

Poetry by John Grey


A winter’s night,
wind from the north,
the hangman’s rope swinging,
skeleton rattling in the window
of Doc Jacob’s potions store.
And so much darkness,
so deep, callous, unwavering,
a man has to look inside himself
to see.
The world is sound,
the clip of shoes on a sidewalk,
the drag of wheels through snow,
the bat’s deep dive into the trees,
the distant wolf orchestra.
Much keening,
houses muddied with mourning,
life in its inevitable decay,
with every bough stripped of foliage
and the chill freezing bloodstreams
to and from the heart.
It’s a time for believing in nothing.
for feeling there is no protection on offer,
that children are as likely
to be gleaned by the reaper
as an old man in his nineties.
Expressions depart faces for good.
Humor is written by and for the graveyard.
Statues in the park
are as alive as the drunkards
sprawled at their stone feet.
There’s no evading doom.
Nightmares rejoice at their ugly telling.
Eyes rust.
Hearts rot.
The life that once was cycle
is now a straight line
that ends in fog and quicksand.
No rhythm.
No pace to keep up with.
It’s the winter of the closing in,
the narrowing of fortune.
You may not die of it.
But your living won’t recover.



Can I interest you in this voodoo doll?
Does it look like someone you know?
Pins are not included.

And there’s the Ouija Board.
It comes with a young Cherokee Maiden
intermediary to the afterlife.

What about a much-thumbed grimoire?
Or a CD of the Merseburg incantations?
A sachet bag of sage, rosemary and thyme –
perfect for a love spell?

We’ve got bloodroot, crow feathers, eye of newt.
hemlock, henbane, jimsonweed, pigs’ feet.
Everything you need to do an enemy harm.

And, in answer to your question,
I do have an ancient,
much-beloved crucifix for sale. 
It hangs upside down.
Is that a problem?



The horror section is in the farthest,
darkest corner of the store.
Best for all browsers I suppose
for here's where the written word
gets to be its farthest, its darkest.

Other areas are well lit.
Best-sellers accost customers
as they walk in the door.
Biographies beam
from their spotlighted faces.
Even the classics
bask in a quiet, respectable glow.

But in the shadowed, creepy
aisle where I roam,
I strain my eyes
to identify authors
and their beastly or demonic covers.

Everyone's lined up
at the cashier
with their purchases,
unashamed, unabashed,
of how their reading matter
represents them.

I cower, drop my head as low,
as it can possibly go.
Even the guy buying Penthouse
is more willing to show his face.

When it's my turn to pay,
a young girl behind the counter
takes one glimpse of the dust jacket
and shudders.

She's pretty.
Her name tag reads "Helga."
It won’t be

when I’m done reading these.



Stephen Gammell's Nightmare Factory

Stephen Gammell's Nightmare Factory