An Altair (First) Night

by John Grey

My goosebumps are on the rise.

There’s someone out there.

Blue fog oozes through

purple tree and thicket.

I can make out subtle movements

in the eyes of

something green and stationary.

Mist clings to its face.

Not even the expressionless

is immune to the change

vapors does to its pores.

But the being

behind its gaseous masks

continues to elude

my long distance probing.


In the reptile pond,

shapes slip from bank to bank,

cling like scales

to heaps of mud.

A small rodent nibbles,

goes from feeding to sacrifice

in one snap of a jaw.

I have never felt more

like a small rodent.


I understand

the wince of sudden death,

how like the enigmatic face

of the alien,

it can penetrate a room.

With so much ambiguity,

mystery and sheer threat,

in the foreground,

I have a hard time being myself.


I thumb through a book,

information codified by experts

on life on other planets.

But these dry geniuses are hidden safely

in their words.

I have to deal with the creature that stares,

the beasts who feel no need

to hide, from me, their true nature.

Finally, the sun sets.

Darkness envelops the bizarre,

leaves me wondering at the window.

The creature hums softly.

The beasts bellow.

My book drops.

I close my eyes in dread.

Outside may not make for a better story

but it knows how to build to a release.



John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in That, Dunes Review, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Thin Air, Dalhousie Review and failbetter.

Poetry by John Grey:

"Fruit," October 2020
"Aliens in the Home," October 2020
"On a Mining Planet," April 2020
"Take Off and Beyond," April 2020
"An Altair (First) Night," October 2019
"Dear Interplanetary Society," August 2019
"Expedition Beyond the Solar System," August 2019