African Wild Dogs Attack a Zebra; At the Wrong Place; The Apple that Fell Far from the Tree


Those hooves could hammer a head,
flatten a spotted velvet face
as the zebra struggles to defend itself

and yet

four wild dogs
set upon her,
two at the head,
one at the side,
one gripping the tail in its teeth,

and then three more join in,
one with a nose scar
from when he almost died trying.

One predator bites into the zebra’s lip,
immobilizes the beast,
crosses the outer edge of instinct
where the fearless go,
as the others dig into exposed flesh.
spurt burning blood.

A scene takes shape on the African plains:
a muffled scream,
pain incoherent,
dogs like pups at the teat
of a black and white carcass.


What world is this
when a young life is dragged from the river,
body held together by water and weeds,
wrapped in clothes like old dishcloths.

How do you plan
for an accidental sighting,
of a face like the moon in aspic.
I struggle to look the other way.
Must contentment be so open about it.

No use. My eyes are done for.
They stare into her blank orbs
until a blanket intervenes.
She’s at peace…
a terrible place from the outside.


So there they were,
father and son.
They lived in the ‘burbs,
an average house on an average street.
The son, at the age of thirteen,
began to write poetry
which was deemed to be a suspicious activity
by his mother and three older sisters.

In order to better understand the boy,
the father put away, for a time,
his fishing rod, tool chest,
Friday night wrestling on TV,
and began to write his own poetry.

The son showed promise.
The father composed badly-rhymed doggerel.
The man didn’t understand the boy’s work.
The boy understood the man’s stuff
only too well.

The boy went on to make something of himself.
This is the only and only time
you will hear of the father.

Photography Credit: Jason Rice

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Homestead Review, Harpur Palate and Columbia Review with work upcoming in the Roanoke Review, the Hawaii Review and North Dakota Quarterly.