John Grey is in a strange town

IN A STRANGE TOWN                                  

How unfamiliar.                                                   
A motel like a one room house I broke into.
Television, three local channels,
feel like I'm stealing another city's news.
A meal in a diner.
Waitress, cook, act like they're begrudgingly
opening up the kitchen for me.
They take my money
but, as I pass it over,
it seems like foreign notes and coins.
I almost apologize for that being all I have.
And there's strangers on the streets enough
to cut a furrow in the brow.
I don't know these people. They don't me.
Never were strangers more an imposition.
I stare in windows of stores I'll never see again,
wasting their displays.
I cross streets with the flashing “Walk”
though if a car hit me it wouldn't matter
because nobody could tell the cop my name.
I return to the room I find only by its number
for its carpet, shades, would never call to me.
Weird colored sheets and blankets. Odd wallpaper.
Off comes my coat and shoes.
Down to something I'm surprised
an alien mirror says is me.
Maybe if I call home.
Maybe if I watch the tremor of my hand
as it wraps around the receiver,
like my nerve ends are trying to
reconstruct me from scratch.
A familiar voice could stake me
to some blueprints.

• John Grey is from Providence, Rhode Island, and has been published recently in Agni, Worcester Review,  South Carolina Review and The Pedestal.

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