Saturday, September 25, 2010

John Grochalski - Two Poems

Curb Your Criticism

this sunday morning
is too humid

and there are too many
american flags lining the street

i try to remember if
the union jack was everywhere in england
or if the french flag hung
from the porches of paris

my mind tells me that they didn’t

this is purely an american thing
hanging flags for no reason

exclusionary freedom for the chosen

this sunday morning
is too humid to be political

i watch an old woman instead

she has a metal cart
it is filled with grocery bags
full of material items

in her free hand she’s carrying
an ikea bag

i don’t think she’s homeless
she’s certainly not one
of the ancient chinese dragon ladies
stealing all of my wine and beer bottles

this woman is fit
an athletic grandmother

about a block behind her is her old man

he’s carrying a metal cart too
it is filled with more bags
full of more material items
and in his good hand
he is also carrying an ikea bag

hurry up, the old lady shouts

she looks back at him
then waves him away

you’re going too slow she says
watch the dog shit in the street
be careful with those bags

and watch how you navigate those curbs

this sunday morning
is too humid to watch an old couple fight

but i do it anyway
forget that i’m picking up the papers
and breakfast

the old man has given up too
he stops at the corner
watches his wife

probably taking account of
all the years wasted with this woman

you could curb your criticism, he shouts

then waits

it’s probably taken him hours
to muster up the courage to say that to her

but it’s too late
the old woman
the athletic grandmother
his wife

she’s already down the block
and around the corner

she calls back to him

make sure you watch
the goddamned potholes on this next block

A Quiet Day

we’re unloading
heavy bins
and i say to everyone
so how about that mosque
they’re building down
at ground zero?

what about it? they say

i mean why the hubbub?

those places are places of war
they say

no more than
churches, synagogues or disneyland

that’s crap, they say
they closed that one mosque in germany
the one where the 9/11 hijackers met

they could’ve met anywhere, i say
they could’ve met at wal-mart
or at the food court in the mall

those people declared war
on us that day, they say

you call these last ten years, war?

they stop talking to me
they just keep unloading the heavy bins

so silent you could hear a pin drop

i know that talking politics
is for suckers
but now i’ll get that quiet day
that i’ve been craving this week

all it took
was a little conversation on my part.

Humming Death

reading the newspaper online
listening to the hum of the computer
i get a sharp pain in the top of my head
that sets my heart fluttering
faster than a morning coming off of
half a pint of scotch
i think this is the big one
the hemorrhage
the medical gift passed down
from my old man’s side of the family
if this is it
then suddenly i want life by the balls
to feel the lion’s roar of youth
come raging out of me
i get up from my chair
the throbbing in my head dissipating
although i am ready for the next one
the glorious blood clot burst
that’ll send me into black eternity
i walk out of the office
into the main quarter of the job
nervous, dizzy
waiting on the collapse
i see the faces of the beginning of the work week
scowling, angry, hateful faces of the dead
bickering and handing each other
another week’s worth of misery
and i walk back inside my dim room
thinking, please, if there is a god
don’t take me this way
not here
not with these people
with these faces of doom
the hum of this machine
if nothing else
i at least deserve a last golden copulation
a final spot by the beach
with the sun going down over the ocean
and someone with a soft voice
telling me that it’ll be

John Grochalski lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is currently in search of a new bar.

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