New Poetry from John Grey: In The Hour Before Sunset

To celebrate sending issue 87.3/4 off to our publishing partners at the University of Nebraska, I wanted to give another preview of the volume. 

Here’s John Grey’s latest contribution to the Quarterly. It’ll be the last poem in the issue and I always worry that it could get lost. To avoid this unlikely eventuality, I offer it here. 

If you like Grey’s poem, you should check out his contribution to volume 85 here (and, if you like it, download volume 85 for free or our latest issue 87.1/2 here).  

As you likely know, these days are particularly challenging for many cultural institutions, publishers, and little magazines. If you can, consider buying a book from a small presssubscribing to a literary journal (like our UNP stablemate, Hotel Amerika), or otherwise supporting the arts.

We are currently reading poetry and essay and are always reading fiction. You can submit something to us here. If you already subscribe, you should get receive your latest copy of NDQ in November. If you’d like to subscribe, please go here

In The Hour Before Sunset

Nerves trembling like pond surface,
in a meadow that’s a wide plaza of green,
and above – glorious – the serene blue,
Armand and I race our hearts
from the horizon’s pale orange grin
to a den of white poplars on the hill.

We climb the old stone fences,
chant the names on the abandoned graveyard markers,
sweep through a grove of ferns,
more windy than wind.
That’s the way of the young –
giggle, flutter and yet stay alert
for the gold and black butterfly on a twig,
the squirrel foraging in gold’s last drops.

As religious as we can manage
is a stuttered paean to Mother Earth,
where she lies in her gravel,
before oak cross and crow angel,
as below, her children,
sprout first apples in the orchards,
needles in a bevy of pines.

It’s all for amusement of two boy-virgins,
brown skin, green eyes, lean of body
and careless with it.
Much growing, much maturing to be done,
say the stay-at-home voices.
But for the rest of life,
today will do nicely.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Soundings East, Dalhousie Review and Connecticut River Review with work upcoming in West Trade Review, Willard and Maple, and the MacGuffin.

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