by John Grey

Nature vs. Nurture

Daylilies are shooting stars,
flaming orange swords
across the grass sky.
The funnel-shaped flower
droops in my palm,
an open heart to my youth.

I should be pottering in the garden like you,
pruning, planting, watering.
But the boy loves his net-veined petals,
the innocence of what just grows where it can.

So you don’t agree with nature.
What else is new?
You roll up your shirt.
I let down my sleeves.
You expect so much from yourself.
I celebrate the contributions
of the wind and rain,
minerals in the soil.
If a flower vacillates,
your emotions fluctuate
My day lilies have their own reasons.
They merely interpolate mine.

So it’s you with your hose,
me with the weather,
you and your trowel,
me and my childhood keepsakes.
You’re the instrument of a suburban God.
I’m content with the creator
who got it all right in the beginning.

Still, if that’s what you enjoy…
and if that’s just how I feel…
Gardens grow.
Wildflower flourish.

Beauty stands to reason.

And yet it desires none.


Ward C

She was breathing hard.
Bruises from countless IV’s
ran up her arm.

But she took my trembling hand gently
as if I was the sick one
For she hadn’t lost her unerring sense
of what to do in any situation.
And she made more a fuss of me
than I ever could of her.

The words were like daggers
plunging in my skull.
But there, on the other side of the lake,
were people feeling no pain.

They were strolling,
faces as calm,
their walk as steady,
as I’d expect in such comforting surrounds.

So why was I tottering?
Why was my face as pale?

She nudged my arm.
I apologized for drifting off,
wondered if I should leave.

I had left my life in idle to be there.

Suddenly I was lost.
I did not know her.
Manufactured heat kicked inside radiators.
But outside it snowed.
It was night.
Everything newly fallen.

More worry for my broken compass.
Where in the world was I?
I took her hand
but it no longer held the candy.

Protests from deep chill within,
river struggling to cut through ice.
she fell asleep, taking the map with her.

Driving home:
slowly, assuredly, I found comfort
in the silent landscape.
taking each road like a child’s game
to nowhere in particular,
as trees subsumed to crystal shapes,
figures with shovels, foggy breaths.

Lights came up with their usual excuse –


Photo by Petr Ganaj from Pexels