Mining Planet
by John Grey


Some planet this.

All that remains are dusty flowers,

sere lakes, decapitated mountains,

derricks, windlasses,

the many holes of giant moles,

some overeager machinery

already burning holes in next year's ice.

And the giant gray prison of course,

guards in grizzled gray,

cells full of rag-tag petty criminals,

well beyond their withered rap sheets,

some political lightweights

futilely scratching manifestos on steel walls,

and a few counting down to their execution.

Lastly, the warden in his glass-domed aerie,

a fiberglass desk of malevolent faces...who lives? who dies?


And in tiny town,

a basket of withered fences and prefab houses,

some poplars cased in translucent metals,

street lamps bearing away the coffin day,

night cracking open the number three hundred in neon

above a face in the window, making no sound,

a hundred lives in the head calling it home.

Another house, in clay askew,

a woman in a tin suit

has cried for seventeen years.

Her husband's dead, son in jail,

and the prison death-squad hot seat

buzzes in anticipation.

Like death itself, on a constellation stallion,

in rides the yellow-gray moon.

Then fitful sleep, another dream

of throwing herself at the executioner's feet.


On to the Galaxy Bar

where pensioned off empire builders

battle scruffy young turks

for the right to be the most beast in man,

tattooed arms, roaring tongues,

and battered heads

where somewhere gets lost in nowhere.

Midnight moves in for its piece of the bloody action.

A black pall covers all,


The holy man of all faiths

almost choked on his last prayer,

has grown fond of mocking God,

besides, he figures, he's light years

beyond His fiefdom anyhow.

Backwater religious life's all tinkling censer,

busted Bible pads, croaked Koran,

sagging pews, tattered Torahs,

and a Hindu deity with more heads than followers.

Father, cry the voices from the houses:

There's a woman, and she has sinned

There's a man, and he's alone.

A harsh wind is all that answers the call.

He's the silent standard-bearer

for a stone-deaf religion.



Bad news from the mines:

the ore is almost tapped out.

How long before mines close,

executions are fast forwarded,

executives go home with their platinum packages,

miners take their cancers elsewhere,

the drunks, the hopeless, scratch their heads,

wonder where everybody's gone?

Even the rats are counting down the days.

     John Grey is Australian born poet, playwright, musician, Providence RI resident since late seventies. Has been published in numerous magazines including Weird Tales, Christian Science Monitor, Greensboro Poetry Review, Poem, Agni, Poet Lore and Journal Of The American Medical Association as well as the horror anthology “What Fears Become” and the science fiction anthology “Futureddaze.” Has had plays produced in Los Angeles and off-off Broadway in New York. Winner of Rhysling Award for short genre poetry in 1999.