“Solitude,” mixed media on wood, by Audrey Kawasaki, 2014. Used with permission.


Amy has a seizure right
there in the classroom,
dropping to the floor,
writhing like a fish on land.

The children panic.
Some scream.
Even the boys cry.
The teacher rushes to her aid,
prays the poor girl doesn’t bite her tongue.

Amy’s venture into
synchronous neuronal activity
is over almost as soon as it began.

She likens it to being stuck
in an elevator
with the lights out
and a bell ringing somewhere.

But then the door opens
and she steps quietly out.
A bunch of familiar people
are staring at her.
Every face has an expression
but her own.

In a New Town

He’s working third shift.
She bolts the doors,
fastens the windows,
doesn’t sleep well,
keeps a breadknife under her pillow.

He guards some soulless warehouse,
midnight to eight,
while she’s the one who really needs
a sentry by her side
at the darkest of times.

They’re new in town.
She wishes she knew her neighbors better.
He’s qualified to do a thousand things
but the security detail
was all he could get.
They have nothing worth stealing.
And not an enemy in the world.
But there’s something about being alone—
it calls too much attention to a person.

When he comes home
weary and listless in the morning,
she hugs him so tight,
as if he’s been away for months.
There’s something about there being
just the two of them—
there are too many moments
when there’s just the one.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Schuylkill Valley Journal, Stillwater Review, and Big Muddy Review, with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review.