Four Poems by Gregory McGreevey

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Lightning Bugs

Branched bogs, a curiously quiet
afternoon, rapt, mad with heat.
We keep throwing rocks, despite
the moans, the pleas,
still,
after cursing turns to begging,
until
lightning bugs dot the darkness
and
frogs quiver
and
call out.

Last time the stream ran too
high and alliances were laid bare,
our sinew fraying
in time, tethers becoming water, accepting
consequence, asking questions into the
silent night.

And so, it felt right to heave, to
rebel against the soil itself, to
forget what we had learned.

Being the stagnant water or the
thousands of humming mosquitos flying
weakly to wherever the wind pushed,
we found ourselves no longer able to
return home, we
having forgotten the language of parades
and roadways,
there being something about the grey clay
of eroding riverbanks
that cannot be translated.

Until now this much was obvious, that
the rules never changed,
that we had never left the woods,
never would.

Clink

Carry with you a thousand miles of rusted fence.
Slurry upland and rest
by the prickly
holly nest
grazing on the leeward
of changing hills’
dwindling roots.

It’s shadow, memory,
as shadows are
hiding the face
, avoiding stepdads,
metallic clink,
fork on plate,
amplified in quiet rooms.
In lucid daydreams

the dirty water
fills the potholes
every winter, we
embrace like a
Goodnight kiss, saying,
Does it mean anything if
cows are happy

when the veiny storm clouds
settle above in bulbous purple
expanse,
when this town’s muddy ditches
are just one year
deeper?

Dawn

Many nights, having squeezed
the mud between our fingers, having
spit starry streams toward the constellations,
we asked that Eos would halt
her arc, the amber pestilence
stretched in rusty chrome
across the horizon, we, having
bit off more than we could chew, having
our jaws eat up the frozen marsh
under oil-speckled ice, wishing
to reunite with time,
beatitude delayed,
our gathering echoes,
we,
Odysseus & Penelope standing among the broken
reeds illuminated in neon,
the river below us
bloated with aluminum cans.

Milieu

We make do with brackish tributaries,
rusty crab cages sloshing through
the thick grey chop, or…

The alluvial plane is silent, a
semi-aquatic meadow on the cusp
of billowing smoke and the apparatus of
industrial revolution decay.
An ornament hung on humid reveries we manifest
among sagging willows.

When mud is your milieu, the
nostalgia is warmer, it has
other connotations, as if we
had the luxury to
choose.

Upstream, furnaces burn,
whole economies built on
sweat and Sunday mass.
We hear differently and speak
secretly.
When the shadows that separate
work from worship embrace
our faces.


Gregory McGreevy lives and writes poetry in Baltimore, Maryland. His work has previously been featured in West Trade Review, The Finger Literary Journal, Bourgeon Online, and The Northern Virginia Review, among others.

Image by Michal Klajban, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

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