Thursday, June 5, 2014

poemS of the day 06.05.14

hello all

sorry for the unannounced hiatus.  was in Pittsburgh doing a reading and i've been trying
my best to not use technology when away or on the weekend (save when I'm working)
and i forgot to announce the break before i left.  that said, for the one or two of you who care
here is the "set list" from said reading.  New poems will return tomorrow.


starting with the last name, grochalski

starting with the last name

i could trace my lineage
down the bar

at sufak’s round corner
on saturday afternoons in pittsburgh

planting roots in the linoleum floor
with grandfathers and uncles and a stray cousin or two

starting with their last names
at the other end

working my way back down the bar

toward beer and shots
gambling pools and stray packs of smokes

tracing the lineage of everything
that emptied generations of family fortune

into the rusty till
of blue collar weekend genocide.


looking like an artist

i like those earrings you have
she tells me
you look very cool like that

and the long hair and beard

i keep trying to get my son
to grow his hair out

you look like some kind
of an artist, she says

a painter or poet

if only, i say to her

thinking about how
all of the poetry zines have rejected me lately

and the novel
just got sent back with
a letter from some assistant in chicago
who couldn’t even get
the title of the book
or my characters’ names right

i think about the paint dried up in the closet
and the stack of poetry books
that i can’t even give away

yet she stands there and smiles at me

while i’m nursing another
thursday morning wine and beer hangover

maybe the bloodshot eyes
and pale vomitous complexion
are doing something for her as well

to think it was so easy all along

if you can’t be
a decent artist
at least you can look like one.                         07.23.10

nothing about the world and love

i wanted so much love
from everyone

that my feelings always turned
to jealousy and hate

i mean why except the affections of the few anyway
when the whole world waited at my doorstep?

these are the kind of things
that i used to think


inventing and reinventing myself
in that boyhood bedroom

first a painter and then an actor
a musician
finally a writer

who understood nothing about the world and love

or that to get anywhere
with just one person

it would have to be
endless lies

and naked confession
all of the time.


bastille day

then he said

in all seriousness
how do you impress a french girl?

to which i said

a lot of  wine
some edith piaf
some serge gainsbourg

a little proust on the couch

and if that doesn’t work
show her your cock
while whistling yankee doodle dandy

reach for the butter
and tell her to bend over
mon cheri

because it’s bastille day

all day

just for her.


my niece in her thanksgiving dress

looking at the picture of
my niece in her thanksgiving dress
fifteen months old
and smiling without a care

i think she looks
just like my soon-to-be

which somehow
softens the blow of not seeing my niece
in over a year

but really
only just a little bit


thursday afternoon

there are five of them
waiting on the platform at 20th avenue

two girls and three boys

when they get on the train, loud and vicious
they split up

the girls go toward one end
the boys sit next to me

they give the girls a chance to sit down
and then smallest one
(isn’t it always the smallest one)

he cups his mouth
he shouts, ya’ll a bunch a pussies
ya’ll cunts
you too, maria
ya’ll a bunch a pussies, he repeats

so that only the deaf and the dead haven’t heard him

no one responds to the kid
not even the girls

maybe we’ve all grown too accustomed to this shit
or we just want to get the hell home

christ, he’s not even that old
leaning more toward thirteen than a young man

up with fellas
down with ugly bitches, he shouts

and it echoes through the train like a cannon shot

then the boys slap each other five and laugh
they are all dressed the same
in clothing telling them to OBEY

well, i guess they’re off to a great start in this country
i look down toward the girls
they are laughing and playing music

if the boys have gotten to them you’d never know

but girls have to learn early here
they have to learn to scrape indignity off with a smile

bitch whore cunt pussies

at 61st street the little boy rises with me to leave
but not before getting in one more shot

ya’ll is ugly pussy bitch, he shouts

then he gets off the train laughing
but it doesn’t last too long

his face turns into a permanent smirk

i look at him
i wonder what it would take to grab him in the station
right here
right now
put the fear of god in the little punk

tell him if i ever catch you talking to women like that again….

this strutting piece of american privilege
on a thursday afternoon

he wouldn’t listen to me anyway
i’d be another pussy

so i let him go toward his connecting train
and i go off toward mine

doing my part to let the misogyny perpetuate
wondering what in the world  i’ll say about this

to my wife
our mothers
your sisters

to everyone’s niece.

new colossus

she says, i feel like i live in china now

how’s that? i ask

by way of explanation
she waves her arms around the room

there are chinese people reading books
chinese talking on cell phones
chinese playing on the computer
or engaged in some other activity

somewhere down the block
a chinese family is buying some old italian’s home

it is true
we are the only two white people in the room

i knew i felt good for a reason, i say
i always feel good when whitey isn’t around

she gives me the same dirty look she always gives me
when i tell her i don’t celebrate the fourth of july

yeah, well, it’s the wave of future, she says

bring it on, i say. give me your tired, your poor…

she rolls her eyes
she looks poised to go into one of those rants
about the good old days of america

but she settles for, this ain’t my country no more

then she glares around the room
goes back to video games on facebook
the three cell phones she keeps that beep and chortle
and make the most inane robotic noises

nods at a meme that says
america love it or leave it

as the battle hymn of the republic plays
on and on and on and on.                                              05.14.14

i’m going to the bar

i’m going to the bar
that’s what i told the eighteen year old clerk
when she asked me what i’m doing tonight
so now i have to go
for her
for you too
i’m going to the bar
to drink beer and eat pretzels and play
loud rock and roll music
at a volume i can’t play at home
i’m going to the bar
for led zeppelin and jim morrison and mick jaggar
so that the bartender can shake my hand
and wish me a happy new year
so that i can wish him one too
i’m going to drink pints of budweiser and love them
i might have a shot or two
i’m going to the bar
to forget about poetry and novels and books i haven’t read
to forget about work and late trains
to forget about prescription pills and divorce
and cancer and death
at least for a little while
i’m going to the bar
to sit there and watch the evening news on mute
and not care what’s happening in syria or iraq or south sudan
and not care about whiney americans bitching about the winter cold
and not care about republicans versus democrats
and this celebrity state that we’ve been paralyzed in
since the dawn of the internet age
i’m going to the bar
to get a little drunk and have a good time
to answer jeopardy questions and not care if i’m right or wrong
i’m going to bitch to the bartender about baseball
about the super bowl about the nets and the knicks
about a-rod and mike piazza getting the shaft from the hall of fame
and then tip him big for lending me his ear
i’m going to let the racists tell me their racist jokes
and not say a word
i’m not correcting a goddamned soul tonight
i’m just going to order another beer
and let the dim lights and the warmth of this place envelope me
thank the stars that i’m alive for a change
and at the bar.                                                                                      01.09.14

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