By John Grey
John Grey is an Australian poet and U.S. resident. He has recently been published in New Plains Review, Perceptions and Sanskrit with work upcoming in South Carolina Review, Gargoyle, Owen Wister Review and Louisiana Literature.
The Spanish Under Franco
These kids could sit in the trees forever,
hi the low hills of southern Spain
watching the game unfold on the red field below.
What’s politics to them.
They’re occupied with nothing else
but the movement of the ball below.
Old men play cards, a young soul strums his guitar.
Young girls huddle close, talk in muted tongues.
The dust would have to settle for sedition to show through.
But the dust never settles.
Sure there’s occasional chatter of insurgent heroes,
patriots dying for their beliefs
And maybe, even in this quaint village,
lurks a martyr in waiting.
But the kids want a goal.
The rest, in their whispered way, have given up on justice.
A peasant town is a mere leaf in the way
of the winds of history.
And the threats of an old man sound tired,
especially with the news being what it is.
And children are by nature foolish.
They think the enemy is the skinny young man
patrolling the far goal.
Opinions crawl around like roaches.
Promises vaporize in the heat.
Why starve on meal of foolish hopes, reckons one.
Another will join up
as soon as he finishes his cigarette.
One of the card players
says, “Screw dictators.
I’d be happy just to see a winning hand
once in a while.”
From exaggerated to the plaintive,
from the innocent to the silent guilty,
the right war cry is difficult at best
The Flautist on the Romanian Hillside
In the name of all remoteness, what have we here.
A shepherd boy is playing on a flute.
He doesn’t mind the chill and his sheep pay heed.
And, I’m sure, somewhere beyond the forest wall,
the wolves draw close, listen in.
In the shadow of the rearguard mountains,
where the blue lake improvises on a fading sun,
music circles the flock like a lariat of sound,
wraps around each unuttered bleat,
lilts the fluttering earlobes skyward.
In the name of all that is gypsy,
who else can be so young with hair so black and matted,
and clothes so thin, the wind holds off in sympathy.
But notes don’t know where the lips come from.
Cocooned in air, they’re out like butterflies.
What happened to the wild? Sound has conquered.
Tunes have answered deepest fears.
Beasts no longer tremble. Man becomes less a conscious thing.
Even on death, is written a staff; a scale or two
The reeds are heaven, the face is stony uplands.
Image of soccer ball public domain.
Cover image: “Rumunia 5806” by friend of Darwinek. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rumunia_5806.jpg#/media/File:Rumunia_5806.jpg