On All My Planets at Once  

John Grey


On All My Planets at Once  


A hand clutching a poison apple.

A skeletal tree.

Chilly, fructose-scented air.

A dragon’s tail and unicorn horn.

A sea of steam—the ripples rise.

Wildflowers waving in congress.

Castles sketched as a child,

now assembled in the mist,

giant turrets, circled by brown moat

and trains at midnight.


What was that noise? A goblin sneeze

of silvery pollen?

The autumn princess rustling her straw?

The cauldron fires of witches?

I’m trembling for the good of my imagination.

A cat, a fox, up on their high legs, slip by me.

Hush, say the fields, as my teeth chatter.

A chain rattles.

A man comes down with an acute case of memory,

beholds a veiled face, the skein of ghosts,

but for red lips, red dagger finger-nails.

A snail crawls cross my path,

gray face turns on a rubber neck,

looks up at me with tiny impish eyes.


Such delights. Gentle breeze

wafts beauty of firefly death.

Timeless. Heart on a trunk in smoke and sunset,

in the glorious nymph chambers,

or roping a helium balloon,

to float into September mountains,

October forests, November hills,

a snow-christened December village

glowing white against a dark of many ravens.


And so I weave my way, bones and pockets jangling,

shadowing time and place,

as iridescent lightning bugs reinvent horizon flashes,

dragon kites float down,

kings look up from their dungeon realms,

and even in the rocks, a glimmer of preserved life.


Remembered days relived,

clouds of dreams and phantoms,

shapes in leaves, bowed strings of air,

ripened writhing belly dancers,

space-age clowns yucking up a comet.

Far from families,

I knock against the Madonna’s breastplate,

skim paper dolls like shimmering butterflies,

follow arrows to the north and south, guided by cranes,

buffeted by tufts of extreme likeness in the grass,

running with silhouettes on the trail to yesteryear.


My eyes reflect in a cool stream,

signal my latest arrival

I sip a concoction of berries and anise,

taste the best of it,

spin cartwheels across a dawn-glazed meadow,

stack my weight atop a hill of hay,

stand upside down until the stripes slide from my shirt.


Let the soul’s own senses rip.

Good old funeral march.

Grand intimacy of candle flame.

Rainbow with the colors of Grand Central Station.

A sparrow’s nest, a witch wind,

some twisted but loving perfume lingering.

The walking dead, the sitting ducks.

The touch of twig fingers,

the game-day clocks, their hands contorted,

the ambler through gates of inviting spectral lace,

an empire blowing away like thistle.


By rag-tag fire,

I create false lives

of such preeminence,

never knew how many a head could harbor—

in the middle of a forest,

the pine, the oak, the willows, take their kind orders:

go forward into—travel back to—

who I am—who I always will be.

With all my creations securely inside,

I start out finally and forever.



John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Homestead Review, Cape Rock and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Poem and Spoon River Poetry Review.



Editor’s Note: A collage of images randomly selected from the poem: A hand holding an apple (Pinterest), Halloween tree (Pixabay), Dragon (Pixabay), Castle drawing (Pxhere), Night Train (Late evening Northern Line train bringing people home from the City of London and the West End, heads towards Finchley Central. Photo taken from Church Lane. Copyright Martin Addison and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License) (Geograph), Witche’s Caldron (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9x46ijHs0-E), Time lapse photo of Japanese fireflies (images are licensed for sharing under a Japanese CC license by Tsuneaki Hiramatsu), and Fire (Pixabay).

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