Literary Arts | READ LOCAL First

Four poems by Gray Thomas

Happy National Poetry Month! For this issue of READ LOCAL First (the world’s premier archive of Utah-related writers), we introduce Gray Thomas from Salt Lake City, Utah. Thomas holds a BA in English from the University of Utah and a Masters in Strategic Communication from Westminster College.

His writing has appeared in Unshod QuillsDrunk In a Midnight Choirenormous roomsButton Poetry, and Write About Now (among other publications). His work is forthcoming in the Winter edition of Plainsong.

Two of his poems below, Birds  and The Scent of Black Tea, were part of a collection (This Is How Astronomers Look At The Earth) that the SLCC Writing Center selected as part of their 30/30 contest in 2019.

Gray is known for crumpling paper into balls and throwing them behind him. The papers contain love notes or apologies. “I have fallen in love and apologized so often,” he says.




When she spoke

birds flew out of her mouth

and flew around the room.

At first it was beautiful.

We all thought it was

a party trick. A nightingale

Then a swallow.

Then a cockatoo.

After the 7th bird

the party became concerned.


He aspired

to become a bluebird.

He focused on turning his hair

into feathers, turning his voice

into chirps, his feet into tiny claws.

He gave up his career

in finance. One day

someone asked him

about dividends

he just pecked at their shoes.


When she spoke

she spoke only of him.


The Glasseater


There’s nothing to it

you just eat a good meal beforehand

and that absorbs the shards in your belly

so the glass doesn’t cut up

the lining, but the risk is always there.

The glass

should be thin

so that you don’t

wear down your

your teeth.

The glasseater does not recommend

the fine china. Nor does he recommend glass figurines

his mother once owned.

The glasseater recommends that you avoid

his father’s coffee mugs as well.

The glasseater has several other

items you could consume.

By all means.

The glasseater has the vase from 10 years ago.

His grandmother’s porcelain duck. She passed away a while ago,

so he assumes that it’s fine to eat.

There’s the glass coffee table

that his ex left him.

The top is edible.

He doesn’t know what to do with the wooden legs.

The glasseater ate the salt and pepper shakers.

He didn’t mean to.

He was seasoning his plate of freshly prepared glass shards

and got confused.

Now he just keeps a pile of salt and pepper

on the center of the table.

Needless to say, the glasseater doesn’t have any windows.

The glasseater can throw all the rocks he wants.


Show, Don’t Tell


Show don’t

tell me about how you are inexplicable.

I want to see how

the worker’s fingers are calloused in the

joints where he holds a hard

handle of a hammer, banging away against a bench

or a wall. How it soothes his joints when

he grasps his wife’s soft.

Show me heavy.

Don’t tell me the worker is lonely.

I want to hear about the laborer’s fingers

falling off after swinging the hammer

against a wall for reasons

he is unsure of and now

he has no finger to wipe away his

wife’s tears.

But when you show me I want

to want more.

I want to like it, but not know why,

like the taste of metal,

or the feel of glass medicine bottles.

Wives cry all the time when their

husband is a worker

who is missing his fingers,

so crying wives aren’t enough.

Make her

not cry,

but long for the ridges of fingerprints.

which is why she is fucking the foreman.

(Something something about the foreman’s wife,

but now we’re getting out of hand.)

(Now you’re showing me too much.)

(No pun intended.)

Let’s just focus on the foreman.

This is also a labor. To push

another man inside you while

remembering the color of husband’s eyes.

This is also a form weeping.

“Show me.

I want to see it!”

the worker yells.

“Don’t just tell me.

Show me!”

he shouts

while grinding out his eyes with a hammer.

“I want to see it. I want to.”


The Scent of Black Tea


When Jason came back

from the war over there,

he was exactly the same

as when he left,

only a gut full of desert

that he couldn’t digest

and a hot sun that wouldn’t

leave his brain.

As the days became tomorrows,

he kept being Jason

but one night at the bar,

I asked him what he remembered.

“Nothing,” he told me,

but the way the whisky slid

down his throat

I could see someone

burning in his eyes.

He told the police

it was the scent

of black tea brewing

that made the holes in the wall,

that ripped the carpet from the floorboards,

that set off his service pistol,

that made his wife

remove all the glowinthedark stars

from the ceiling

of their son’s bedroom.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.