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By John Grey

PROMPT — What is Love?

The crows won't let me go to sleep

And among them—who would have thought it?—was Suzanne.

And in Providence?

And my once and future lover?

And 1lie with my shadow

as if it was solid flesh.

And the rivers swell with blood amid the sludge -

slaughtered in your name, Suzanne -

your animated skin, your blazing eyes.

I bed down in sea-swathed Newport,

below the cotton undulation of a cloud,

an empty floating vessel but for Suzanne,

aching for the fluttering of a butterfly,

the feathers of a bird,

but given over to the stones, the gravel.

Great suffering had fallen on Rhode Island.

I'm anchored in this fact,

wish I'd I never set foot in Providence,

or that men will not again be caught -

if it's true that this is a fable,

then why does the river, the flames,

lament me -

crow, crow, crow,

crow, my cawing minstrel -

there's nothing in Providence – but a phantom -

just eyes, mouth, fingers

on such a night as this by the river's rim,

the hurricane barrier,

shadows and whispers there.

She floated in the gondola's wake -

fire touched her- she spoke only to the flame -

and she was there, on the banks of the bay -

pursued by me, pursued for years by me -

so many bodies cast,

so many souls so designed as to remind me of my frailty -

mournful crow,

that's how you were made,

carrion's slave - always asking the question -

what is love? what is not love? and what is there between the two?


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in New World Writing, California Quarterly and Lost Pilots. His latest books are Between Two Fires, Covert and Memory Outside The Head. Work is upcoming in Isotrope Literary Journal, Seventh Quarry, La Presa, and Doubly Mad. John writes from Johnston, Rhode Island.


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