Often at night,

when the sky seems as close as it does now,

and the trees tense up

as if knowing the clouds will soon break,

and the light’s an eerie shade of gray,

I’m fourteen again

and in my Holland Park house,

closing the windows

one long look at a time,

no one else around but my ancient neighbor

who slams her windows shut

as if in anger at the coming storm.

(just like she does 

when I play my music too loud)


Those times are my most alone 

but not the loneliest,

the summer storm line as familiar to me

as my mother’s steamed-up face at the stove, 

as she stirred the chicken noodle or tomato soup


The first bolt of lightning, first roll of thunder,

arrived with the last latch slipped,

the last calm moment 

for the banana tree in our backyard,

and then it all hits at once,

shaking the foundations,

flashing the rooms in and out of light,

strafing the tin roof with virulent sheets of rain.


Every moment, it seems 

has its equivalent in the past.

Sometimes, I sense it but cannot put it into words.

Other times, it’s like storms,

the parallel so glaring.


It’s squalling now like it did back then.

I’m glad that not all of my life has left me.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Hawaii Pacific Review, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty with work upcoming
in Blueline, Willard and Maple and Steam Ticket.