A Bar on Oxydene by John Grey


Welcome to those intemperate,

a toast to all sots

and a bang-up tune from

an Oxydenean jukebox –

who needs the outside

when we’re boxed like an organelle

inside its cell,

in this haven for the drunks of the universe.


Beyond that door is hell

or, at least, so many doors closed to us.

Why shouldn’t we turn our attrition to advantage

with a glass of what ails

the dead-eyes and demoralized.


Some stand in the light,

others sink down the shadows.

One nurses his drink

like it’s an extension of his hand.

But here, the bottle never empties,

the finest brews from ten thousand planets

are available

at the slap of a tongue.


Sure, there’s rules that apply.

We exaggerate, we lie.

Honesty is not permissible.

Nor are politics, religion,

or anything subject to the stench of warfare.


It’s mostly conversation

on an abstract plane.

mouths and antennae,

thought patterns and gestures.

some sports,

reflection on the intergalactic weather

and, of course, the females of all species

are fair game.

So we order another round,

laugh, backslap,

like it’s the golden age of alien revelry,

celebrating the liquid tempo of the glasses,

every sip, the moment of consummation,

the continuum’s indifference

to the thirsts of all our kinds.



John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Tau, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Naugatuck River Review, Examined Life Journal and Midwest Quarterly.