Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Two Poems by John Grochalski

holding my wife after another bad night

i wish i could remember
what we'd been arguing about the night before

there'd been so much lately
loud neighbors and lights being left on
medical bills and inches of dust on countertops

things we shouldn't been have been arguing about
in the first place

cancer and mammograms
and federal jury summons
coming on the first day of vacation

it seems the arguments happen like magic

a bottle or two of wine and neil young on the couch
then poof we're going at each other's throats

another good night turned to shit

this morning
i'm holding my wife in bed
after another bad night between us

rubbing her stomach as we let the tears come

in between apologies
i'm searching in the dark for answers
but i'm only getting snippets

defiant pulls on wine
the sound of her feet stomping across corroded wood

idle threats
that sound like promises that should be kept

it's true that we do more damage
to the ones that we love

i wouldn't be caught dead talking to strangers
the way that i've talked to my poor wife

sometimes love
gives you the license to be a complete bastard
when it should put you at your most cautious

love is funny that way

still i wish i could remember what it was
that set it off last night

then this morning i'd have a better frame of reference
for the soothing words that i'm saying

for the tears she's streaking down the bedspread

just some inkling of what went down
so that we can begin to forgive and forget

get out of bed
make coffee or make love

get on with this business of living
for better or for worse.


telly kept all kinds
of fast food bags in the office

he had the bags full of free trinkets
that he got at trade shows and other events

one of them held several hundred pens in it
although the bags still held the odor of food

the office smelled of rancid meat
and french fry grease whenever telly was there

in the spring the fast food bags attracted ants

some days there were just a few
but on most a line of thousands of ants

some days there were just a few
but on most a line of thousands of ants
went single file behind computer stands and desks
to reach the fast food bags on telly's side

instead of doing my job
i'd watch the ants scale the height of a bag

they looked like mountain climbers working in tandem

then they'd fall of the edge into the bag
as if committing a mass suicide into a volcano

there were many days where i had to take a broom
and get rid of hundreds of the ants

i felt like a grand executioner
killing entire colonies in one sweep

i knew i'd never be a buddhist doing this business

i felt for the ants
they were only doing what came naturally to them

at my worst
i'd have to take several
fast food bags and squash them

to the ants i imagined
it was like a bomb going off
one second fast food bliss
the other second mass annihilation

by the time telly came to work
both the bags and the ants were gone

he'd put his things down and then circle around his desk
looking at all of that negative space

where are my fast food bags?
he'd ask me, in that lispy way of his

but i'd just shrug and turn back to my computer

or i'd get up and go to the bathroom
to stare at my sinister self in the mirror

a mass murderer if ever there was one

before turning on the hot, brown water
trying my best to wipe the blood from my hands.

John Grochalski is the author of The Noose Doesn't Get Any Looser After You Punch Out (Six Callery Press, 2008), Glass City (Low Ghost Press, 2010), In the Year of Everything Dying (Camel Saloon, 2012), the novel, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press, 2013), and the forthcoming collection of poetry, Starting with the Last Name Grochalski (Coleridge Street, 2014).  Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he constantly worries about the high cost of everything.

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