Poetry: John Grey

A Haunting

The Barrett boy is locked
beneath the lake,
his body splashing like
a fish’s tail,
his face pressing panic
hard against solid chill.

Children run everywhere,
flail their arms,
scream “Help” loud enough
to crack the ice some more.

Last year, the Lincoln’s youngest
got lost and died in Baker’s wood.
The year before, the Andrews kid
fell into a steep crevice.
It’s nature’s way of saying…
but of saying what?

Soon adults, parents.
Fire-trucks, cops, are on the scene,
lights blazing, tongues flapping.
If this poem
was called “too late”,
it would just be this stanza.
If it were “you can’t protect
them from everything,”
it would be the one before.

But it’s regarding
the Barrett boy as revenant,
his pale blue face
staring up through
a glazed, inchoate surface,
eyes spaced wide
by invisible pennies –
it’s about memory and dreams –
whatever the state
where we’re reminded.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.

© John Grey 2018