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Poetry 2 Fall 2018



         by John Grey


I stroll through the garden.

Monet, the lilies say.

And then crisscross the park.

Seurat's pointillism underfoot,

and ahead of me.

circling the duck pond.

I am glad that the spirit of the artist

is not only in the paint.


The robust rouge of the teenage girl

is but a hundred years from Renoir sketching her.

The supple women on their way to dancing class

cry out for Degas.

Thankfully, the world doesn't just rest on its reputation.


Toulouse-Lautrec is here.

I've seen the brilliant posters

on the theater wall.

And water creeps over the village banks...

Pissarro, Sisley, take your pick.


In a moment of drunken madness,

I even sit in Van Gogh's frenzied chair,

try to sleep in his crooked bed.

Thankfully, dreams calm me,

like letters from Theo to the cottage in Provence.


But then comes time to leave,

a sorrow but then a revelation.

Gaugin is also sailing for a distant shore.

He says, "Whence do we come? What are we?

Where are we going?"

I think I'll call his bluff.





      by John Grey


I've been in that position

where the crowds just aren't aware

that there's no one here but the music and I.


No matter how the violinists imitate people,

they're strictly department store dummies

fitted out in black, with instruments cocked on shoulders

and bow in fiber glass hand.


And automatons sit on either side of me.

How do they manage the breath?


The percussion and brass

are skillfully drawn cartoons.

Everything behind me

is an artist's rendition.


Nothing is as close to human

as the sounds

and, of course.

the one who hears them.


This symphony's like blood

from another source

branching out inside my body.


If feminine,

it's a teenage girl in an Iowa cornfield

or a woman of a tribe I cannot even name.

If male,

it might be a father tending advice

or a drinking partner.

If neither,

it's the Milky Way at amazing speeds

or acetylene wind bearing dark whispers.


In an auditorium, I get there early,

wait around for notes arranged according to

some stranger's intention.

Pitch, rhythm, tempo, meter, timbre and texture -

appointment kept.


Bio: John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Homestead Review, Poetry East and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Harpur Palate, the Hawaii Review and Visions International.




        by Mike Lewis-Beck


A sign over a shop window—

something’s in this for me, in I go to see.


To the braided blonde I say, How can you help

me at my work? She says, We can clean it up


if you are registered.  Registered?

Registered as a Belgian householder.


Poets have to register in Belgium?

Poets?  ‘Poets’ means ‘clean’ in Flemish.


In America poets clean stanzas.

In Flanders we clean whole houses.


Bio:Mike Lewis-Beck writes and works in Iowa City.  He has pieces in Alexandria Quarterly, Apalachee Review, Cortland Review, Chariton Review,Northampton Poetry Review,  Pilgrimage, Iowa Review, Rootstalk, Seminary Ridge Review, Taos Journal of International Poetry and Art, Writers’ Café and Wapsipinicon Almanac, among other venues.  His short story, “Delivery in Göteborg,” received a Finalist prize from Chariton Review, 2015.  His essay, “My Cherry Orchard in Iowa,” received recognition as one of the ‘Notable Essays’ in Best American Essays of 2011.  His poetry book manuscript, Wry Encounters, was a Finalist for the 42 Miles Press Poetry Award 2016.