A mirror serves a purpose,
strives to remain constant
despite the changing faces –
sometimes someone new,
sometimes the same one
but a day older.
It’s not just
the one gray hair,
the blemish on the chin.
It reflects everything.
It’s up to us to pick and choose.
A mirror is okay with lake water
doing the job for it,
rippling a face
like a snake casting off slough.
Or even a window,
both in the glass family
even if the unwitting pane
can only accommodate parts of people
and, even then, its accuracy is disputed.
A mirror is not devious.
merely holds to the two dimensional doctrine:
return all that it is given
It has no interest
in where we go, what we do,
after we’re done looking.
For a mirror has no inner life,
is content to stare at a wall
until we return
A mirror can’t tell ugliness from beauty
though it assumes, on some level,
that, if we stare into it long enough,
we’ll make our own judgment.
A broken mirror, they say.
brings seven years’ bad luck.
But only if it’s the seven years’ bad luck
we already had coming.
The lady is idolized.
Forget the accomplishments.
Her perfect figure
warrants preserving after death.
Love the fantasy.
Skin stops at the edge of our inquiry.
Her eyes say
you’ve come far enough…
wallow in the color.
She had a child,
She wed a man.
She even has a delicate scar
beneath her skin
from a minor car accident.
But her breasts don’t believe
in life stories.
And her hips have nothing to gain
from how she pays her bills on time.
The lady is in our heads
posing for our thoughts.
She can’t be in her head.
Her face won’t allow it.
Blame the lack of stimulants in the air.
Call me an effigy made of stone.
But my blood refuses to be wooed
despite your come-hither gesture.
The moonlight lies like a sheet
on your spotted body.
Your language is a brighter shade of pink.
Lamp tries to warm
but the background music is frozen.
It’s your leopard-skin that’s at fault.
It prods my sensibilities like a pistol barrel.
What’s next? An ocelot coat?
You’re pushing a rock up a hill
if you imagine I can love you in that.
No, make that fighting a big cat bare-handed.
My ideals are clear on the subject.
I‘m so like the leopard,
searching for that justice we seek
but will never find.
And, despite your sexy winds blowing my way,
I will not waver.
For necrophilia, bestiality –
that is the love and sex you offer.
So here we are in the living room –
a man and a corpse
that’s embalmed by pretty green eyes
and a flash of shoulder-length black hair.
But the shadows under those eyes are pits.
Those tresses are a form of tallow.
Really, your insinuations arc beginning to sicken me
Sure, you insist your leopard-skin is really a fake.
But a fake’s the real thing in this light.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.