When the Talk's Between Many

Sometimes when I’m with people,
I drift out of the conversation,
imagine myself wandering off,
away from the exchange of words,
the eager faces.

In fact, I’m better at ambling off
into the forest than holding up
my end of talk, even when
there’s not a tree in sight.
And see me scramble up the ridge,
maybe into a cave or two,
while discussion gets animated
despite it being the parlor
of someone’s house.

It’s comfortable peering at voices
through a thick mat of trees
or leaning over a rock
with just my eyes showing
and my ears pleased
that my tongue need not be engaged.

And there’s always that moment
when sound slows, holes appear in it,
spaces where maybe the consensus is
that I should be.
And people stare at me like they’re
looking around wondering where I am.
And they steer the dialogue my way
like maybe we’d better go look for him.

Eventually, I just stroll back
like I’ve never been away.
They ask my opinion like
they’re saying where were you.
And off I go again,
deep into myself this time.
But I leave a note behind...
agreeing or disagreeing with
what’s been said.
And that seems to satisfy them.


John Grey
John Grey sends Why Vandalism? some poems