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John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Orbis, Dalhousie Review and the Round Table. Latest books, Leaves On Pages and Memory Outside The Head are available through Amazon.


A red-turbaned man
seated on a mat
in a rough-paved plaza
sways from side to side.
as he blows into his pungi.

From the raffia basket
at his feet,
a snake emerges,
an Indian Cobra,
a foot and a half
of vertical backbone.

Spectators watch in awe,
figure the sweet melody
is charming
even this most venomous
of killers
when it’s the movement
of the instrument itself
that has the reptile in its thrall.

The creature is
as deaf as my Aunt Gladys.
It figures the pungi for a threat,
so it cocks
and spreads its head
in attack mode,
flutters its tongue,
hisses through
readied fangs.

So no, despite what you’ve heard,
music does not soothe
the savage beast.
It merely suggests
the savage beast needs soothing.
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