Friday, April 28, 2017


little girl lost junkie america

we saw her
stumbling along union square
pulling her hair in and out of a ponytail
drunk, my wife said
probably on meth, i added
then she was in our train on 14th street
shouting at a group of latinos on the platform
fucking arabs! she said
go back to your country!
trump’s going to send you all back!
when she realized they weren’t arab
she started shouting
fucking spics!
trump’s coming for you!
the people on the platform were trying
to hold one of the girls back from coming on the train at her
she was crying and shouting
don’t you disrespect my people!
this is america in 2017
this has always been america
and will probably always be america
when the train doors closed the meth-head
turned to all of us
don’t you judge me, she said
pulling her hair in and out of that ponytail
you don’t know what i’ve been through
but still you didn’t have to say that
one black lady said
you didn’t have to say his name
and by canal street meth-head was fighting with her too
calling her a nigger and telling her to go back to africa
that greasy hair in and out of that ponytail
threatening to strangle the woman
the next time they saw each other
when we pulled away from the station
she prowled around the train car like a caged animal
that’s right, she said,
you don’t know who you’re fucking with
face red and cracked
that hair in and out in and out in and out
like my wife and i had seen her back in union square
another drunk
another meth-head
another vile racist
little lost girl junkie america
living on the streets
while the president plays golf in his winter mansion
on the taxpayer’s dime
cutting social welfare programs
and blowing up iraqi cities
over a tepid diet pepsi and an overcooked streak
little lost girl junkie america
in her land full of plenty of scapegoats
y’all don’t know what i’ve been though, she spat
then she turned and smacked her head
against the train doors
over and over and over again
until she stopped like a dazed prize-fighter
a trickle of blood on her forehead
and slid all the way down to the train car floor
knocked out loaded on her ripped duffle bag
one hand inside a pocket, searching for something
as the q train left the subway tunnel
and manhattan burned bright behind us on  the bridge
a gilded palace
a rich man’s playground
just another american prison
for all the good people to call their home
or rip each other the shreds

--John Grochalski


Thursday, April 27, 2017


Americans Have a Special Kind of Empowered Look

Making our way through Paris,
my husband has left behind the baseball caps
that normally grace his head.

We’ve packed only plain t-shirts.

We keep the map folded, out of sight in my back pocket.

We speak in low, hushed tones
anxious about speaking English
and our American accents

and yet,
here he comes, in tight jeans, a small scarf,
his face shaved,
lithe, attractive,

crossing the wide open
space of the garden

points and says “Obama, ├ža va?”

He gives us a thumbs-up and a too loud laugh before passing.

--Ally Malinenko

(poem taken from Ally Malinenko's How to be an American available
on Six Gallery Press)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


pissing it all away

the president has sarin breath
and he’s pissing it all away
on golf outings in swampland
he’s shaking his little cock in korea
and waving those tiny hands in russia’s face
he couldn’t find syria on a map
he’s a tough guy for sure
all one-hundred-forty-two characters of him
the great sherbet savior of macho-macho-jesus-land
with the approval rating of a gangrenous slug
the internet troll groper-in-chief
mr grab ‘em by the pussy!
salivating at ten year old girls
going gingerly up his escalator
waiting on the collective amnesia of the white race to kick in
so we can get back to the business
of the business of the business of america
fucking the poor and people of color
while pillaging the shit out of the land
he’s the CEO of hell
he’s the crooked american dream
slick honkey douche bag kids and a collection of trophy wives to boot
a gold plated colostomy bag
with a nefarious blond nest on his head
wiping his sagging ass with the bullshit constitution
as a collection of goldman sach’s tit sucklings
whisper sweet apocalyptic nothings
into his waxy tone-deaf, philistine ears
mr. steak and potatoes
the emperor wearing no clothes
a court jester who can’t tie a tie
reality tv god with his finger on the trigger
and the pulse of the nation
….i mean
is he the chicken or the egg, motherfuckers?
when did it become okay to expect less?
the president has sarin breath
and he’s pissing it all away
because he’s doesn’t give a fuck about any of us
because he knows deep down
that we’re okay
with pissing it all away too.

--John Grochalski


Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Competition is Ever-present in American Schools

They line us up against the padded back wall of the gym
the coaches’ sneakers squeaking on the floor
as they roll the red rubber balls out in front of us
ping ping ping
they bounce and we scramble to get them
so that when the whistle blows
we’ll throw them as hard as possible
at the heads of the children on the other side of the line.

We’ll pick off the weak that hover in the back,
pegging them hard in the spine
when they turn to avoid our dominance.
We’ll slap five.
We’ll hoot and shout.
We’ll keep throwing that ball until we have decimated their team,
cut down their numbers, ostracized them through pain.
Whistles will blow again
and we’ll line up for the water fountain
where it doesn’t stop,
this dominance
where the same ones who hovered in the back
now try to drink water
and the same ones who threw the balls
splash it in their face.

It helps us grow. That’s what we say. Life is hard.
This game is truth.
It’s played all over the world.
Here we call it dodge ball
In England they call it Bombardment.
In Australia, Poison Ball.
In Turkey, Yakan Top which means the ball that hurts,
an apt description.
In Romania, they call it Ducks and Hunters
All across the world, burn ball, hit ball, two camps,
this game keeps appearing.
But I think the German’s got it right.
Because when they line their children up against the wall
and teach them how to win
and how to run
they call it

--Ally Malinenko

Monday, April 24, 2017


walking to work poem
            --after frank o’hara

it’s the worst
when the sky is cloudless
and the trees are still leafless
and the seasons haven’t decided
between the winter and the spring
i can freeze or sweat
with the best of them
and i have every house on this walk memorized
like children do with bad poetry
especially the ones that had signs in their lawns
supporting the new dipshit president
which says more about me than them
that is to say
what we talk about when we talk about vengeance
and the same lady is smoking at 10th avenue
and the same old man is telling everyone
what a beautiful day his god has given us
and the same dog wants me dead on 17th avenue
biting and gnawing at a heavy metal fence
for my simple audacity of trying to get to work
somewhere along this stretch my ipod will die
and high school girls will act
like they can walk right through me
and the high school boys will smoke pot
while they talk their man-child tough talk
and i still won’t be able figure out what music it is
that i want to listen to
and it has been twenty five years since high school
so i stick with jazz
because i always play jazz
when i’m undecided
except for when i play coltrane
when i play him i feel immortal
only on the next block a tiny electric car tells me
that the future is female
which makes me feel good for a little while
that is to say
this city is full of over eight million people
and i’m so happy in this moment
to truly know
next to none

--John Grochalski                    

Sunday, April 23, 2017


sunday afternoon in rudy’s bar & grill

christ has risen
but my mind isn’t blown by the idea
and tourists from trumpland
are crowding my streets in easter bonnets and bunny ears
blonde mothers with southern drawls
sending instagram photos of times square
posing for picture with cops
decked out in bullet proof vests
holding machine guns outside the subway station
in the kind of day that could really make you hate america
but here in rudy’s bar & grill the action is sparse
nobody cares that it’s easter or that the mets are on
that it’s ninety degrees in april
and we’re hiding from the heat too soon
there are maybe five of us
holiday throwaways
drinking three dollar pints and two dollar shots
the guy a stool down from my wife
is bragging to the ancient bartender
about his twenty-seven year old girlfriend
like the difference between thirty-four and twenty-seven
is something to be looked at in awe
i tell my wife
if he were fifty years old maybe i’d be impressed
which might be wrong to say
to the only woman in the bar
and i think about how i haven’t been in rudy’s in years
maybe once or twice since the days
when their free hot dogs
counted as a luxurious friday night dinner in the city
and we sat in the bar all night drinking cheap beer
safe from the temp jobs that couldn’t even pay the rent
watching hell’s kitchen get drunker and drunker
men dancing alone to old blues songs
because we didn’t want to go home
to that shithole apartment with the bass upstairs
and the gang members on the next door stoop
i think about how time moves too fast
yet too slow at times
about all of the easters that i wasted on christ as a youth
how i’ve lost my taste for bars and hot dogs
and even twenty seven year old women
how i’ve never had taste for cops and america
how i wish all of the tourists with twangs in times square
would go the hell home
back to the states that hate my city
taking their easter bonnets and bunny ears and the heat
and poor jesus christ on his poor little cross
back down there below the mason/dixon line with them
to rot most pleasantly
in that hot southern heat.                                                           

--John Grochalski                                    

Saturday, April 22, 2017



He stands like a weathervane
/thrusting a finger 
at the crowd./Business men wet their pants/with 
joy./Flashes of light./then 
shadow./The hoopla,/the 
sheer, unapologetic 
nerve;/that ostentatious 
Fuck you/smile. While the 
residents on Orchard 
Street/go about their day,/ 
shopping at Food 
Town,/paving roads, taking 
their children/to school, 
living, dying.

--Jason Irwin