John Grey

John Grey
is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Soundings East, Dalhousie Review and Connecticut River Review. Latest book, “Leaves On Pages” is available through Amazon.


My grandmother says there was a time
when men came to the door selling vacuum cleaners.
The salesman would do a demonstration,
reaching into his pocket for a handful of dirt,
tossing it all over the floor before she had a chance to protest.
No matter. The fancy new machine would suck up
not just this new filth but the stuff that was already there.
Save her the trouble. Then she’d inspect the job he’d done,
say something like “Thank you” and nudge him out the door.

Then there were the ones, kids sometimes, selling encyclopedias.
They barely got a word out of their mouths
before she cut them off with a door slammed in their faces.
Same with the beggars. Same with the guy selling home-made fertilizer.
This was before people got vicious dogs, she’d say.
Strangers weren’t exactly welcome but nor were they
torn to shreds for their unwanted intrusions.

When she was young, a man came to the door
with this skinned sheep.
He was desperate. The beast was going cheap.
Meat was prized in those tough times, even mutton.
Her father bought the carcass, hung it from the rafters
in the chill of winter. The family ate well for a week.
Nothing was wasted. Not the stomach. Not the brains.
What couldn’t be cut by knife and fork
soaked its away into a steamy broth.
She still remembers the sheep’s dark, round eyes.
Not accusing but sad. But folks were to hungry
to take a meal’s feelings seriously.

She says the last to come to her door,
before she moved into the nursing home, was a woman
trying to sell the wonders of cable television.
Grandmother didn’t send her on her way immediately.
They talked. Grandmother thought she may
have babysat her mother many years before.
But cable TV sounded too much like the future.
And that was no use to her. She couldn’t look back on it. 

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