john grey, two poems

in thirds

A third of your life
was drowned in alcohol.
In another third,
you slept where you fell.
The other third
was dedicated to your studios,
self-portraits of a drunken man,
a sleeping man.

A third of your life
was dedicated to your art.
Another third
to how you dealt with the frustration
of your brushes, your palette,
failing to accomplish
all that you would wish for them.
The other third
you slept where you fell.
A third of your life
was as much like peace
as sleep had a right to be.

A third of your life
was dedicated to getting you
into that beloved state.
The other third
pretended, at times,
to be all of your life.

But it screamed,
it hollered,
it panicked,
it almost cut itself,
then it reached for the bottle,
then it split into thirds.

her first drowning

It was her first drowning.

When she stared down
from the bridge,
she saw nothing but stars.
Mid-plunge, she thought,
this is what it must be like
to leave the bounds of Earth,
to be an astronaut
with a body for a rocket.

She imagined landing on new worlds,
but arrived sooner than she expected.
With barely a moment to explore,
she sank directly
to the river bottom.

Maybe this how all drowning
begins and ends.
A dream like a lure,
a tug of gravity pulling her in.
Relief brief and not sustained,
annihilation inevitable

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