“Drowned Man Lives Again” by John Grey

There was a lot of crazy thrashing

at first

and I was cursing myself

for not keeping at it with those swimming lessons,

and I had unkind words for the ocean of course,

the way it traps a man

into believing it’s just a peaceful, languid,

kind-hearted body of water,

when it contains deadly undertows,

a sudden drop in the ocean floor,

a rogue wave leaping out of the benign breakers.

But eventually,

I accepted my fate,

even managed to dredge up some benefits

to breathing all this water into my lungs,

such as never having to contract

some rare and painful disease

or waste years in a sad, debilitating relationship,

or be swamped with bad news upon bad news,

or spend hour after hour being totally bored

by life and everyone else who bothers to see

their own lifetime to its excruciating end.

In fact, as I sunk deeper and deeper,

I felt a kind of peace,

a sleep uninfected by bad dreams.

It was of no matter to me that,

when my feet hit bottom,

my nose was resting quietly

on the briny surface.

From that moment on,

I would be a drowned man.

I’d go on living

but as a waterlogged example to others.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, “Leaves On Pages” “Memory Outside The Head” and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Ellipsis, Blueline and International Poetry Review.

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