The Search For What Live Here

Air’s like pitch in these caverns,
and the way is narrow,
led by flashlight,
groping my way through
walls stained with ancient blood,
through years and centuries,
and yet a lair sheltering
whatever lives here now.

A pistol in my belt
but the unknown
is the poorest of targets,
could be the gurgling
underground river ahead
or the falling rock behind
but is ultimately none
of these things.

Curiosity is my bane,
discovery, my foolishness,
the throb in my throat a a sign
that even the most competent
of hunters
is also being hunted
in that blackness,
in a pit where superiority
could change from hands to claws
in an instant.

So as much as I come to it,
it could well come to me,
from anywhere in this labyrinth
of lost time, abandoned evolution,
as with one grip of rough talon,
a frenzy of teeth,
I could learn in an instant
what the beast’s sensed since birth.


John Grey
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in That, Midwest Quarterly, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in South Florida Poetry Journal, Hawaii Review and the Dunes Review.