The Other Person

It’s not the street lamp
but its fragile voice,
nor the sidewalk,
just the winds it broadcasts.
A woman has no better place to be.
That’s the tongueless language hereabouts.

And it’s not the city.
The hot dog swimming in blood
is the city.
The taxi and its clunky meter,
its neon yellow doors,
is the city.
It’s what floats above the city
even as it seems to rise up
from below.
A woman is someone called Elizabeth
whom you cannot know.
Lizzie’s eyes look carved out of her skull.
They can stare a shadow down.

And it sure isn’t the room she takes you to,
not that creaking flight of stairs,
and forget the bed.
That’s the mattress
where life and death fought
and sex won.
Sure she undresses
but not down to anything.
She holds you like she holds her money.
But only one is stashed into her purse.

So what do you have for evidence?
A kiss that leaks from her lips
like horsehair from a blanket.
A handjob like she’s swatting flies.
Something called penetration
which is nothing but smelly water
sloshing down a sewer pipe.
The pillow is a rock.
The blanket is a road sign.
And the woman is a woman?
Can anything be what you say it is?

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Schuylkill Valley Journal, The Stillwater Review and Big Muddy, with work upcoming in The Louisiana Review, The Columbia Review and Spoon River Poetry Review.

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