Why you’re here by John Grey

Illustrated by Melissa Abuga-a.

As I’ve heard it, he drove with
her to the lookout,
parked by the benches,
gave her maybe a minute or two
to catch her breath
and peek down at the city
and its smattering of light.
She was eighteen, barely legal,
small breasts, thin legs,
too nervous to say “no”.
And when she turned away
from the houses and the streets
there was nothing but darkness
and the rough feel of the fake leather seat
and his groping arms.
He had her down,
uncomfortable I’m sure,
with legs hard against the steering wheel,
and head pressed by the door.
She looked at his face,
tried to love it,
while he just squeezed his eyes shut,
pumped like she was a tire.

So if you were thinking
you’re the offspring of
some great adoration and passion,
that’s not how it works in this town.
It’s all quickie marriages,
drinking, fights, divorce
or pretense that nothing’s wrong.
And what did they have to do but love you.
Better you rocking in a mother’s arms,
than her lying on the bed
remembering nothing but that crazy night,
the weight of a man crushing her,
damp grass gasoline smell,
cricket choir, every muscle
aching, cramping,
the terrible guilt of just allowing things to happen.
Better you lifted high above a father’s head
than him cursing the trap
he still thinks your mother laid for him.

About the Author-

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Perceptions and the anthology, No Achilles with work upcoming in Big Muddy Review, Gargoyle, Coal City Review and Nebo.

About the Illustrator-


Meling [Abuga-a] is a full-time artist, part-time farmer and on call volunteer teacher. From Mindanao, Philippines but she has been living all-over Asia. You can find her works here and follow her on Instagram.

Why you’re here is one of the many amazing submissions we have received so far for the second edition of the literary collection The Machinery. To submit for The Machinery-Second edition, you can go here.

Follow The Machinery!


8 thoughts on “Why you’re here by John Grey

  1. Wow! Very impressive. A very long story told with economy and clarity. You are gifted. And…the illustration…profound. One of the best pieces of art and poetry I have seen in a long time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great poem. Great truth. Eventually, all men with children wake up and realize it was a trap. Even Buddah did not become THE BUDDAH until after he had a child, name him the Indian translation of “ball and chain” and walked away without even touching the child. It is what it is and life goes on.


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