Amid the Local Color

I love piers,
especially deserted ones,
and mostly at twilight
where rotted wooden planks
bounce over light, over waves.
And I’ve an affection
for ancient sea-dogs,
white-bearded, gray-eyed,
who barely mutter a word.
And I just adore the unknown decorator
who adorned the restaurant, the bar,
in glass bowls, in netting,
in anchors, in plastic mermaids,
scattered scrimshaw, in gaudy painted ladies
from the bows of dead ships.
Fresh catch, the menu
proudly tells me.
On a chalk-board,
the waiter fills in names of fish,
the price of lobster.
The owner recounts tales of storms,
of the statue in the town square
inscribed with those the sea took.
And my head swoons at dawn,
when I walk the beach
before the crowds arrive,
and the stories, the appropriate decor,
blow away in salty bluster,
and there’s just me, the rolling ocean,
and the first of the fishing boats
trawling in the light.


John Grey
John Grey sends Why Vandalism? some poems