Sunday, November 11, 2012

John Grochalski - Five Poems

She Gave Bad Head

colby told everyone
that she gave bad head
in a hotel room in downtown pittsburgh

she gave bad head
then jerked me off
but she wouldn’t even put out

so that’s how we knew her
as a chick who gave bad head
even though some of us
would’ve begged for bad head

she was the first girl to give colby head
since his ex-fiancé
so he had no real basis of comparison

because he said that his ex-fiancé gave bad head too

i wondered what made it so bad
like not enough tongue or too much with the teeth

but colby wouldn’t elaborate

it was just bad, man, he said
her jerking me off was bad as well
i should’ve done it myself while she watched the tv

why didn’t you, one of the other guys asked

because, colby said
because we went to that hotel room in downtown pittsburgh to fuck

it had cost colby two week’s pay to get that hotel room

it was a fancy hotel
famous musicians and sports teams stayed there
a lot of good and bad head was probably given at that place
amongst other things

but colby’s head had been bad
the worst, he said, taking a beer out of the trunk cooler

i was really disappointed, he said
bad head can ruin a weekend

the rest of us nodded

bad head would’ve made any of our weekends

then we all drank beer
and watched people going in and out
of a suburban bowling alley

did you at least come? someone asked

colby grinned
of course i did, he said

like a whale

and it went all over her long black hair.

the kids can’t tell time
they point to a clock and ask me

what does it say?

i answer their questions
with questions of my own

don’t you know?
what are they teaching you at that school?

the kids laugh
they think that i’m being funny

but they think that everything is funny now
because of youtube

they tell me the teachers
still teach time in school
only no one pays attention

time is irrelevant, they tell me
and i wonder if they’re just misquoting einstein

everything is digital now
which is true

there is time on everything
from microwaves to telephones to flowerpots

there’s so much time that no one knows it’s value
any longer

these kids, they waste so much of it

i wonder what’ll happen to them
when the solar flares hit

the big ones

and the grid goes dead for months
and we’re back to archaic shit like cranks and batteries

i suppose time won’t be so important then
but i’m sure somebody will want to know

some kid who is bored
because there are no video games

one who is late for dinner
who will run up and ask me what time it is

i think i’ll become a time miser then
just to teach them a lesson

make myself like one of those rankin/bass characters

was there a time miser on rankin/bass?
i suppose i could look it up while we still have electricity

give myself a flashy costume
a frosted haircut
and little song to sing
every time some kid asks me what time it is

check my watch and whistle
then point at the sun and say

figure it out

as i saunter toward my cave.


Talking Poetry with the Liquor Store Man

i ask the liquor store man if i can use his phone
but he just stares at me from behind his pulpit

the one that has all of those scotch pints incased in glass

i tell the liquor store man that it’s important
the bus never showed
and my wife is waiting for me

i don’t own a cell phone, i tell the liquor store man
you got to find the humor in that in this day and age

but he just shuffles receipts and sighs
looks out the window at the rain that has drenched me
made me look like a lunatic

come on, man, i say, be decent
although i hate begging

i shouldn’t have to beg
because i’ve spent a lot of money in this store
since i started working in this neighborhood

the liquor store man and i both know that he’s been dressing better
since i came to town

he should be begging me to buy a liter of whiskey
but he doesn’t

he just rearranges the mini bottles
throws a few more in the plastic tub for good measure
as i look around the store, think about buying a bottle of wine
and walking home

i tell him that my wife will be worried

the liquor store man knows that there are wives all over the city
who are worried

he sells alcohol, after all
he sort of manufactures worry

you know me, i say
i’m a good guy, i tell the liquor store man
i’m a poet and you can look me up on all of the internets

that seems to work
the liquor store man grabs the store phone at first
but then he gives me his cell phone

thanks, i tell him
it’s a local call

he nods and grabs his laptop
watches me closely as i call my wife

i’d like to think he’s looking me up
that he’s proud to have a poet who buys liquor from his store

but he probably thinks that i’m just another drunkard
on a tuesday evening

another one who can’t get his shit right.


Shit Happens

i see the jazzman
at the corner of 4th avenue

he’s doing a strange dance
slamming his boot into a puddle of water

then doing this kind of
bird walk back and forth

he’s wearing his postman’s outfit
so he’s probably not drunk yet

when i cross the street
the jazzman looks at me
without a trace of remembrance and says

man, i stepped in shit

i think how
i haven’t seen him since
they closed the bar down

and sent all of us flies searching
for another pile of shit


….at least the jazzman found his.


East End Flasher

bobby was all right
he used to find me on the orange bench at work

he’d talk to me about books
while i smoked my two well-timed cigarettes
during a fifteen minute break

he got me into knut hamsun
before bukowski and fante had the chance to

bobby liked music
especially old mod bands like the who

he’d try to convince me
about how great the who and the kinks were

while i smoked and looked at my watch
working out whether or not i could fit in a third cigarette
before i had to get back on the job

a bunch of us would drink at the old panther hollow inn
on paycheck fridays

when bobby came along
he’d talk the same spiel about books and music

the more the beer flowed
the more animated he’d get
and people would crowed around him
laughing and buying him beers

bobby seemed pretty normal
everyone liked him

he was always going to lunch with a different girl
and seemed more well-adjusted than i did

i wasn’t going to lunch with anyone

when i was home
i sat in my bedroom drinking beer
watching television on mute with the lights off

drawing circles with the orange ember of my smoke
as buses drove up and down forbes avenue

i was content to let life pass me by

but then one day i came to work
and everyone was acting silent and strange

i smoked on the bench alone

at lunch a couple of the guys from shipping found me
they said, did you hear about bobby?
the cops arrested him last night

he’s the east end flasher
turns out he’s been the one showing his cock
to all those little boys and teenage girls

last night the arrested him
at a basketball court in regent square
with his pants pulled down
and his shirt over his head

then the guys left me sitting there
in the golden green of the pittsburgh summer

it was a paycheck friday
and everyone was going to the bar after work
to talk about bobby

i had hamsun’s hunger with me

i thought i’d buy bobby a beer
ask him about the chapter i’d just finished

but now i figured
i’d just go home.

John Grochalski is the author of The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser After You Punch Out (Six Gallery Press 2008), Glass City (Low Ghost Press, 2010), In The Year of Everything Dying (Camel Saloon, 2012), and the forthcoming The Sun Causes Cancer. Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he constantly worries about the high cost of everything.

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