Sunday, September 30, 2012

Two Poems for John Grochalski

at the vatican

they come in hordes
sweat soaked and stupid
to stare at the blood-soaked opulence
of the vatican
the mammoth dome of st. peter’s
some genuflect
cross themselves in spiritual wonder
stand stupefied
by the audacious
unapologetic grandiosity of the place
while others buy trinkets
of the dead popes
rosary beads and postcards
or angle for a better place
in the long line of the curious
and ignorantly devoted
you can almost smell the death here
the thousands years of oppression and deceit
the millions and millions of people
who traded away the only life that they had
for the anemic promise
of the next one to come
standing in the grand piazza of the vatican
and looking at a stolen obelisk
left over from roman times
i am hit with a wave of nausea
so hard it feels like a religious conversion
i feel i might get sick
right there on the cobblestones
so i hold on to the only solace that i can find
the page in my travel book
that tells me that at one time
this land used to belong to nero
and when he was bored
his minions would murder catholics
to entertain him
and suddenly i feel a whole lot better
standing in this gilded
chinese women on the train to rome
they are the new wealth
and people seem to begrudge them that fact
i guess letting go of an imperial legacy is hard
we should have a sit down
with france and england
ask them how they learned to cope
having to nickel and dime their way
across the twentieth century landscape
i don’t begrudge these women anything
i was born broke and i’ll probably die the same way
a pitiable circumstance fits me like a pair of comfy shoes
i just wish that this pack of banshees
would shut the hell up
just a little bit
stop the chatter and screaming at the landscape
the infantile giggling and barking over the shoes
that they bought in florence
there’s no need for such noise
on a hellishly warm day like this one
talk about han-shan or something else of value
i mean, shit, if you’re going to be the new kings of the world
don’t you think it’s time to start spreading around the cultural clout
instead of dolling out punishments
and making trinkets laced in lead?
ah, but who am i to criticize?
america has been abusing people for hundreds of years now
plus i have a bag full of shit made in china
resting right above me
and sometimes even i’m a slave for a good deal at wal-mart
i’m just angry because my cat is dead
and there are too many americans in italy
carelessly spending the remnants of their legacies
angry because i squandered this trip
hiding in irish bars and hot hotels
i don’t really care if these ladies laugh or chatter
squeal at the tuscan landscape as it pours on by
someone should be happy on this train
it might as well be them
besides i have my ipod with me
a big made in china sticker still stamped on its ass
full of enough music to block out their voices
a shenzhen suicide factory
or anything else as we all ride our way
toward the blazing roman sun.
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), 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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