After the sweet exhilaration of Jazz at the Clientele,
hot playing, smooth satin singing,
I'm walking back to the hotel,
feeling good and grateful for sounds.
as wind weaves through my whistling,
keeps the quiet at bay.

I stroll by the park,
the shuttered skating rink, empty bus stop,
and the benches full with bodies,
some blankets, a ragged coat,
watched over by stray shopping carts
or a solemn equestrian statue,
wandering souls moored for the night.

A taxi slows up when it sees me,
fancies me for a fare,
then speeds up at my indifference,
rattles a manhole cover for good measure.
Something scurries by me.
I swear it's a rat
But what can I expect on a humid July evening
with few people about and trashcans overflowing.

Office buildings huddle together in hibernation.
The towers of the Westin
shine like a spaceship landed among them.
I'm headed in that direction.
Once I'm aboard,
it will be zooming off to planet Sleep.
Until then, I've a string of tiny bars to pass.
Strictly for locals these,
men huddled together
like clandestine meetings of Opus Dei.

A woman stands on the curb,
obviously waiting for someone.
The air is sweet with her perfume.
There's a sense of time stranded
and its scattered denizens
trying to nudge it along a little.
The woman does it with eyes
looking one way, then the other.
I hum tunes with the night between my teeth.

John Grey

About the poet: John Grey is an Australian born poet. Recently published in Paterson Literary Review, Southern California Review and Natural Bridge with work upcoming in the Kerf, Leading Edge and Louisiana Literature.