Poetry from John Grochalski


the masturbator


hear him


in the library stacks

oohing and aahing

beating that rhythm

to chinese beauty magazines


see him


head down

on hard wood tables

snoring and scratching his balls

sleeping like a child of heaven


a wad of paper towel

still clutched in his hand.

this work email



i’m not going to answer

this work email


i may never answer it


i want the person who sent it

to sit in their office


and wonder why i didn’t respond




i’m going to let

this email sit in my inbox

and rot


like raw meat in the hot summer sun



it’s the only form

of independence


that i truly have left.

bait box blues


i watch

the exterminator

put poison and steel wool

into the holes in the wall of my office


watch him set a huge yellow trap

with a dollop of chocolate

and line up bait boxes

like rows of black, plastic apartment buildings


the rat has run by me

twice in a month


the second time

i sprained my foot

trying to get away from him


the exterminator looks at peace

while he sets the traps


he gets up off the ground

and says, we’ll get him


fooling me into a certainty

that i haven’t felt in a long while


even though tomorrow i know


the steel wool

will be pulled out from all the walls


the chocolate from the trap

licked up and gone


those bait boxes pushed around

like an earthquake hit


and a small pile of rat shit

will be waiting for me


on my desk


reminding me of my true place

in this pecking order.            



each human transgression

is its own freshly sharp blade of grass


i try not to hold it against anyone

but sometimes you just want someone to blame

for all of this sadness and futility


a god to shake a fist at


and i could say i make

the best of things in my spare time


but i don’t


i’m a hungry man with a fork

in a world full of nothing but soup


angry almost always

and growing older ungracefully


another car wreck of a human life


musing those halcyon days

that never were


as the stoplight changes

from green to red


and any semblance of home

seems an eternity away.




when she said

it feels like

you hate everything now


there was

nothing left to do

but wash the dirty dishes

sitting in the

dirty sink.

John Grochalski is the author of five poetry collections, three novels, and the forthcoming novella Wolves of Berlin Play Amateur Night at the Flute and Fiddle Pub. He currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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