Poetry from John Grochalski


what was so important at the petco

that you had to almost mow me down


was it a last minute run on biscuits?

a new chew toy for fido

or some cheese flavored treats for the cat?


i’m curious, lady


what was so important at the petco

that you had to almost mow me down


right through that intersection

like you didn’t even care


i could see if you were on your cell phone

a dick move and highly illegal in these parts


at least that would make sense


but you were staring straight ahead

eyeball to eyeball with me

as if we were up on some telepathic shit


did you even see me jump?

what was so important at the petco

that you had to almost mow me down


a job interview? a rescue pet seminar?

a social justice protest giving it to corporations and the man?


at least the lady six blocks ago

was trying to make the yellow light

when she almost nailed me from the side


and the guy this morning, he didn’t even blanche

when i called him a miserable fucking fuck

for rolling through a four-way stop sign and almost drilling me


he knew what was up


maybe your favorite song was ending on the radio

but that still doesn’t make this right


you could say maybe i’m the one who

should’ve been more careful

but each time i was paying attention


who would’ve thought a tuesday

the perfect day for a veritable hat trick

of possible motor vehicle death for yours truly


christ, with people like you it makes one think

they’ve beaten the odds just by getting home and going to bed


so what was it?


what was so important at the petco

that you had to almost mow me down


make me step back on my toes and spin

like a fucking ballerina?


i’ll take anything at this point, bitch


20% off dog and cat food

a yankees jersey for rover and spot


a rabbit cage or a reptile for the kids

a murder/suicide pact that we’d

drunkenly made at a bar some time ago




what was so important at the petco

that you had to almost mow me down

on a hot and humid august afternoon


like you were the only person

who mattered in the world


the only one with cash to burn

barreling through the dregs

of this scorched and stinking earth


almost upending both of our little lives

for good.

the fans


there they are

disrupting the solace

of a pre-noon D train

bud light cans

wrapped in brown paper bags

like badasses

american flag wife beaters

and yankees jerseys

reflector shades and board shorts

their hats all on backwards

talking smack before the first pitch

their girlfriends

already bored and playing on cell phones

texting each other

over the cacophony of testosterone

in five hours

they’ll all be drunk

before the sun goes down

one will have vomited in a garbage can

outside of yankee stadium

green beer and processed meat

the girls will have run to the bathrooms

at least six times

tear streaked and accused

of sleeping with some guy behind

one of the bros’ back

they will have fought

or tried to have fought

a pack of dude who look just like them

but only in the other teams colors

no one will remember

what happened in the game

they’ll read the box score online tomorrow

before their 1 p.m. brunch

bacon and eggs

fruit cups for the girls

but mimosas all around

then plan on doing the same thing

next saturday afternoon

if the weather is nice

and the yankees

are still in town.

talking travel with the verizon man


i watch the verizon technician

set up my new internet behemoth

a large router and cords galore

this upright console that looks like a video game machine

all this machinery

just to send out poems and look at porn

he tells me that i can get cable through it

looks suspect when i say i don’t have cable

well, you can stream movies anyway, he says

with all of this increased mbps

but all that i notice is that this set-up

has taken up an entire outlet

and i have nowhere now to plug in my fan

new york city apartments in late autumn

and you still need a fan most days

i want to tell the verizon man

that new york city is depressing in the fall

that it’s not like in the movies but still too warm

i want to ask him about climate change

point to my fios that’s lit up like x-mas lights

and ask him

how many of us really need this stuff to live?

but instead i sit there and watch him work

like everyone else who has nothing to do

he talks about the mets, the wars, this crazy election

and how expensive it is to pay for college for his daughter

the verizon technician looks at the pictures on my walls

he says, christ, you sure travel a lot

which embarrasses me

makes me want to show him the broken windows

and the student loan debt

prove to him that i’m still the salt of the earth

but when the verizon man points to a picture

of the leaning tower of pisa and says,

hey, the eiffel tower

i nod and say yep

then like a fool i tell him

that it looks even better

when you get the chance to see it live and in person.

poem in which the neighborhood asshole

fixes his car on the first seventy-degree day

of the new year


obviously there are the requisite tattoos

a neck one of a skull and crossbones

that bullshit spider web on his elbow

the ones going up and down his forearm

so you know what a bad ass he is

i’m sure death before dishonor is tattooed across his back

and something about his mother

tattered close to his heart

there aren’t even leaves on the trees

and he’s got a late summer tan

the wife beater seems almost obvious too

a powdered blue one from some beach in south florida

where maybe it was sex, maybe it wasn’t

but, hey, at least no police report was filed

and that hair he has,

what is it?

pizza slurping douche bag by way of the murderous marines?

semper fi for sure, bro

and is that his camouflaged ATV parked in front of my building?

the sun and a cloudless blue sky are like crack to dudes like this

the way they attract asshole families eating ice cream cones

on their way to kill precious hours in the park

cockroaches one and all

i’m sure he’s contractually obligated to say, yo, what’s up?

to every blonde chick with resting bitch face

who passes by him in biker shorts

sucking down on a gallon jug of sugar-spiked iced coffee

while shouting at their boyfriends on their phones

about what insensitive pricks they are

behind his reflector shades is a blank stare

or one of some mongoloid, bulging eyed confusion

contemplating how he even found the front door

jetlagged and hungover and yet in need of a drink

i watch him noodling on his engine or carburetor

not sure if he even knows how to fix a car

waxing poetic to my wife about charles darwin

about how easy it would be to kill a man

if only it weren’t for these laws we have here

i think this guy also has the right to vote

the right to oxygen and water and the very essence of life

to the cosmos we’re one in the same

two specks of stardust shit forced to endure each other

on the same sun-soaked block

on the first seventy-degree day of the new year

where his car alarm has been wailing for at least five minutes

as he touches wires and laughs the laugh

of a peaceful fat ass, unfazed buddhist

nods his head to the relic rock coming out of his stereo

as the dog across the street barks shakespearian sonnets

yowls for tender mercies

and i close the blinds

grab the vodka

and pray for rain.

ode to the loud guy on the B4 bus


eighteen months

i haven’t had to take this bus home


now, i don’t want to suggest

that things should get better over time


life is cyclical


some mornings i get the feeling

that we’re slipping slowly back

into some new kind of dark age


but do you really have to shout to your friend

about going to dinner at buffalo wild wings?


i don’t want to get into your cuisine choices

but the man is sitting right next to you


at best you need only talk above a whisper


why do we all have to know how much you enjoyed

your screamin’ nacho burger and buffalo chips?


i’m not trying to suggest

that what i’m doing on here is better

than what you are trying to do


though i am reading chuck kinder

poems about richard brautigan


by the looks of us we’re both trying to go home

from our fucking jobs


i just don’t care that target has all their star wars shit on sale

and how cheap the batman/superman blu-ray combo is


even if i did like the film


or that the target is right next door to buffalo wild wings


which was good because you really

needed the bathroom after that meal


i’m sure the other two dozen people on the B4 bus

don’t give a shit either


but it doesn’t matter to you, does it?


doesn’t matter that the bus driver had

to make an announcement telling you to shut the hell up


you didn’t even hear him


just went right on babbling about bowel movements

and stars wars and batman and target

and screamin’ nacho burgers and buffalo chips


i don’t want to say that there was a genuine sigh of relief

when you got off at thirteenth avenue


i’ll just say the bus got a ton quieter

and the driver no longer looked like

he wanted to careen the bus into a wall


that is, at least until sixth avenue

when some asshole teenage girl got on the bus

blasting taylor swift songs from her smartphone


singing off-key for everyone


like she thought she was

going to be america’s next big shit.


John Grochalski is a published writer whose poetry has appeared in several online and print publications including:  Red Fez, Rusty Truck, Outsider Writers Collective, Underground Voices, The Lilliput Review, The Main Street Rag, Zygote In My Coffee, The Camel Saloon, and Bartleby Snopes.  I am the author three books of poetry The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser After You Punch (Six Gallery Press, 2008), Glass City (Low Ghost Press, 2010), and Starting with the Last Name Grochalski (Coleridge Street Press, 2014).  I am also the author of the novels, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press, 2013) and Wine Clerk (Six Gallery Press, 2016).

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