Regarding the Death of a Man Named Richard

A poem by John Grey

I don’t know any Richard

though my throat catches itself,

chokes down on partly-formed sympathy,

refuses to give my voice rein.

I’m more than familiar with wind,

that ripping side-effect

of the ocean retuning,

but I am sad that he drowned nevertheless,

because the waters are powerful enough

without having to make another widow.

Richard’s the subject of discussion

in the small seaside town.

He was the one who went out too far

and who lives on in echoes and tears.

I leave the swells to dead men.

Even a trudge in ripping gale

is too much information.

There’s power enough in this chaotic air

to shift dunes like chess pieces

on this yellow board with no squares.

It’s better if I stay clear away.

At dusk, it’s calm,

so Jane and I finally emerge.

Not for Richard’s sake though.

It’s merely a chance to stretch our legs

while we still have them.

The beach feigns innocence.

But above the scattered shoreline debris,

the flattened oats,

gulls cry sea-blue murder.

John Grey is an Australian poet and U.S. resident. He has recently been published in New Plains Review, Perceptions and Sanskrit with work upcoming in South Carolina Review, Gargoyle, Owen Wister Review and the Coe Review.

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