Thursday, July 31, 2014

poem of the day 07.31.14

the politics of not giving up your seat
to a little kid on the subway or bus

my advice is to keep your head down
when the walking abomination enters
your line of sight
read a book if you have one
or if the little bastard starts moaning and wailing
about having to stand for his one stop
listen to music on your fancy device
play a video game or pretend you’re meditating
stretch your legs and wince
tell the man sitting next to you that it’s a war injury
you’ll find at least three people willing to call you a hero
and give their seat to you even though you already have one
act like the fake pain in your leg is a genetic defect
it’s not like you have to wear a handicapped sign
when you’re sitting on the subway or bus
(at least not yet anyway)
whatever you do don’t feel bad
it’s a kid for christ’s sake
they cry for sport and can’t color within the lines
they can’t even articulate their emotions or thoughts properly
remember that one day this kid will probably be your boss
tell yourself that you’re just doing the lady next to you a favor
by not letting the child sit next to her
she’s busy with the new york times anyway
and it’s not like anyone else offered to get up
know that you’re still a good person
even if the kid ends up falling on the floor
rolling from one end of the train car to the next
while his mother frantically chases after him
as if he were a dollar bill blowing in a breeze
you’ve given up your seat for plenty of people
the sick and the old
women that you were almost sure were pregnant
the occasional hot chick who’s just not hot enough
to have someone else pay her freight
look at the kid’s mother
nod and empathize with her plights
as she struggles to pick her son or daughter
off of the piss-stained floor
be sure to tell them to have a nice day when you depart
because it’s not only polite
but it’s the right thing to do.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

poem of the day 07.30.14

no alternative

another day in america
i’m listening to the king of pop

there is a poster on this train
telling me that just one more drink can hurt

hurt what? i wonder
one more drink has been my salvation more often than not

on the poster there is a white guy
he’s in a suit and tie and he’s holding a beer outright
he looks like he’s pointing and yelling at someone

it’s no surprise though
white guys are always yelling at someone
immigrants, underlings, their kids or their women

take away the suit and tie
and he could just as easily be at a barbeque
telling someone what an effete commie the president is

the poster says
to keep your friends from hurting themselves or others
cut them off, it demands

this is all fine
but the poster offers no alternative to alcohol

like joining a bowling team
or selling your soul to jesus christ

it doesn’t get to the root of the problem
it doesn’t ask why people drink

or about violence, rape, bills, jobs, traffic,
boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives, kids,
disease, squalor, guns, congressional bully pulpits
expired dairy products on grocery shelves
or white guys in suits always telling you what to do

the king of pop
he sings about being only human

but in america
we think we’re better than that

we smile and pretend
that every day is the fourth of july
in the land of immaculate exceptionalism

don’t end up like the white guy on the poster
another fortunate son going down that dark and lonely road

another statistic

go to college and become a businessman
the CEO of a major corporation

mainline while milk and caffeine
run a company into the ground for sport

only when the deal goes down don’t grab a drink

hit the beach in golden exile
sip coke until its coming out of your ears

learn how to play volleyball instead.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

poem of the day 07.29.14

saturday at the beach

there is a man
with a crucifix full of cotton candy
selling it on the train car home
from another long day at work

as if this were a carnival
as if it were another saturday at the beach

while lumps of flesh
push wrinkled, wet dollars into him
to stop their screaming children
from going haywire

only he can’t get by this obese family of five
taking up half the train

they look like fungus tops sitting
upon bowing plastic chairs

bell-shaped and breathing through their wide mouths
they’re passing around buckets of chicken

spitting pieces of carrion
into the dust and sunlight
caught between the moving buildings

as more children scream bloody murder
waging small wars over soda cans

and i stop everything and think
how men and women have given up their lives for this
how i drink because of this

hard and hot and long from sweating bottles
to forget these people

to forget this summertime america
of new nike shoes
and goombas in wife beaters and plaid shorts
yelling about the wide asses on their women

oh, if only those asses could grow
like pinocchio’s nose
then i could believe in this fallacy
this sticky american dream

as some fat bastard with no future
mainlines ketchup packets
and chokes on another crinkle-cut french fry

his woman wrapped in a
what you lookin’ at? beach towel
hurling cheetos and a 7-11 big gulp into her soul

as the guy next to her grins
with his hands in his pants

searching for gold

humming an original tune

this modern day mozart
in a t-shirt that reads

hard work is for the future
laziness is for now.


Monday, July 28, 2014

poem of the day 07.28.14

mint chocolate chip

the two girls sitting near me
have a loud one-act going on
about how much they love ice cream

ooooooooh, vanilla one of them shouts

oooooooooh, chocolate, the other counters piercingly

before this they’d spent fifteen minutes
shouting back and forth about the apps on their phones
and how much they love doritos
but hate the bright orange powder that gets stuck on their fingers

this is sadly an improvement

i loooovvvveee, strawberry, one of them says

ewwwwwwwwwwwww, the other responds
strawberry is soooooooo gross.

they are giving credence to the old adage
that children should be seen and not heard

they make year-round school seem like the right choice

i stop reading my book and look around
but there is nowhere for me to go

i’m stuck and they are stuck and we are stuck
talking about ice cream in the middle of the afternoon

butter pecan, my mother loves butter pecan

yeah, well, my sister loves cookie dough and coffee flavored
she says it like a challenge

mint chocolate chip! the one girl shouts

they both squeal

we’ve hit the motherload in this conversation
the apex, the big payoff in centuries of verbal communication

mint chocolate chip!
they both scream this time

it’s like a revelation
like being in a room with copernicus
when he figured out that everything
revolved around the sun

i can’t help but laugh

i look over at the two girls and they are beaming
they look as happy as children with tons of hours to kill
and not an ounce of responsibility in this world

kicking legs too small to reach the concrete
their lives full of ice cream dreams and soda pop ambition

christ, may the world
never force them to change, i think

then i go back to my book
and turn another page.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Hiatus time

hello all

taking a hiatus from ol' winedrunksidewalk starting tomorrow July 18th.  Unless i can find something better to do with myself than try and write poems, i should be back here on Monday, July 28th.

as always...thank you.


poem of the day 07.17.14

a portrait of the artist watching his future wife
getting ready for their first date from outside her window

scotch breath from two rounds of nerve killers at the PHI
desperately trying to open a pack of mints on atwood street
ratty old leather coat ratty goatee feeling unwashed because
of fear the college kids already stalking the night in half-drunken
stumbling girls laughing boys howling all of oakland/pittsburgh
waiting on the snowfall black sky no moon no chance of running away
from this down mckee place he catches a glimpse of her on the third floor
in front of her mirror maroon shirt hair pulled back putting on make-up
her mouth puckered for the first time the same way he’ll see it
for so many years only he doesn’t know that yet he thinks he hopes
this’ll never get old he hates beginnings he hates ends he hates that
they are not as familiar yet as he wants them to be so he watches her
like a stranger with his heart beating a mile a minute in his chest
as someone shouts the revelry he feels and he thinks yes yes yes yes
she’s the one.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

poem of the day 07.16.14


wanda was tall and lean

she was corn-fed
and came from the middle of pennsylvania

she was the first girl i laid eyes on in college
after doing four years of time
in an all-boys catholic high school

i used to sit in general writing class
and watch her play with her long, curly black hair
while she rubbed one foot off of the other and took notes
as the professor talked his game about wendell berry

maybe if wendell berry had long, curly black hair…

i stalked wanda on campus
i never meant it to be creepy

i wanted to talk to her but i could never figure out how

because for me talking to a girl
asking them for something as simple as getting a cup of coffee
was akin to asking their hand in marriage

so i was the idiot who walked ten paces behind
or needed the water fountain when wanda was done
or happened to be going into the men’s room
when she was going into the women’s

i was far, so very far from making a case for romance

once i had it in my head to ask her out
i waited for wanda to leave class
but then i became paralyzed

i couldn’t move
even the professor left before me

something grabbed me and made me get up
i tore down hallways and stooge-skidded around bends

on a stairwell i saw the top of wanda’s curly, black hair
three flight down
and i went for it
pushing past coeds and missing a step or two

on the last flight i decided to jump nearly the whole thing

i ended up slamming off a wall
and cracking my knee off of the concrete

wanda got away
and i ended up at the doctor’s two days later
with orders to take it easy for at least a week

there’d obviously never been a wanda in his life

by some miracle
i ended up asking her out right before christmas break

we got a cup of coffee
and sat with each other for nearly an hour
hardly saying a goddamned thing

we had nothing in common
and i didn’t know what to do

it was like catching a fish
and not knowing how to reel it in

so we flopped around words and circumstances

while i thought that it was such a grand success
just being somewhere public with a woman

and eventually wanda left for her last class
thanking me for the coffee

even though she only drank half of her cup


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Starting with the Last Name Grochalski

hello all

i have a new book of poems...which i totally forgot to mention on here.
this is the cover:

the book is out on Coleridge Street Books which is a little boutique press for Kristofer Collins'
Low Ghost Press, which was kind enough to publish my book, Glass City, back in 2010.
Starting with the Last Name Grochalski can be purchases in-store at Caliban Book Shop in Pittsburgh
and Gatsby Books in Long Beach, California. 

For my Internet friends and international friends....Starting with the Last Name Grochalski can
also be purchased at

Lastly...there is also a Goodreads page for the book.  So feel free to throw a positive and/or shitty
review my way.

as always thank you for taking the time to come by Winedrunk.


poem of the day 07.15.14

the pittsburgh kid

his face is a sewer line
i mean i hate this kid

it seems like every time i go
to the car rental place he’s there

with his dumb smile
and his chipper, go-getter attitude

he’s the american morning made manifest
he’s no cure for a hangover

and he always wants to know where i’m going

i tell him pittsburgh
and his face lights up

pittsburgh, he says
i’m from pittsburgh too

and then there’s this story about how
he’s not really from pittsburgh
but from thirty miles outside of pittsburgh

then we have to have the requisite talk
about how much he misses home

the kid has no facial recognition
that or there’s so many ex-pittsburghers renting cars
that he can’t tell one of us from the other

we’re like members of a fucking cult
me and the pittsburgh kid

two neighborhood boys
done gone and moved to the big city

black and gold bumpkins
stumbling the wilds of brooklyn

i’m going home this weekend too, he says
yeah, gonna kick it in the ‘burgh for a while

good…he’ll be someone else to avoid
while trapped between those three rivers

he’s someone else to avoid here
on another hot and sweltering saturday morning

with his sewer line face
and his ginger buzzcut

his eyes twinkling the corporate creed
asking me

so how do you think them steelers
are going to do this season?


Monday, July 14, 2014

poem of the day 07.14.14

fine dining in america

there are twelve or thirteen of them
at one table

it is almost biblical

plates and napkins are stacked in dirty piles
cup and beer mugs like chess pieces

there is more leftover food on the table
than some countries see in a week

she is bitching at the manager
because one of their meals came out later than the rest

someone had to watch the others eat for a minute
before he was given his own trough of slop to consume
and now she demands satisfaction

this is fine dining in america on a saturday night

where they seat you with a smile
and give you tonight’s manager’s name
because they expect a complaint, they expect the problem

chain restaurants with twenty big screen televisions
raining down every sports channel known to the free world

where the music is so loud that you have to scream
to the person sitting next to you

or you just give up
and sit there in dumb and stunned silence

your very own neighborhood pub an grille
complete with proustian menus of no merit

and food described as stacked, slathered, smothered,
tender, rich, juicy, stuffed, heavy, drizzled, dripping
oppressed, choked, asphyxiated, loaded, piled, amassed

with the same adjectives that will most likely
end up on your medical report one fine day

everybody looks the same in here
dirt tans and t-shirts with some ordinary sarcasm scrawled on it

tired, over-worked, flabby masses
beaten down from days spent shopping
and suffering this weekend’s blockbuster movie

they are digging into the two for twenty meals
and shouting at the television screens

as the manager leaves the last supper fat and contented
with the promise of gift cards and free coca-cola

he’s stalking the space looking for the next misery

as we lift forks and spoons and knives
down glass chalices of watered down, ice cold beer

with a sweaty waitress grinning over us
at the ready to kiss our fat, greasy asses
and ask the eternal question

do you still have room for dessert?


Friday, July 11, 2014

poemS of the day 07.11.14

Four Haiku

his head buried
in her womb
she checks her phone, expectant

nothing but bad poems
and the lack of good
subway graffiti to read

orange-red apartment wall
dusted yellow from
a fistful of my knuckles

corn syrup children
smacking glass doors
at high noon

Thursday, July 10, 2014

poem of the day 07.10.14

all life is suffering

i don’t know where calvin found her
because he was always so upstanding
and his mother tried her hardest to keep him
locked up on friday nights

but there she was in our booth
dressed in black with black hair and black lipstick
a bloody mary in her hand
and a clove cigarette in the ashtray

i’m a wiccan, she said
i can do all kinds of spells and curses

are you responsible for my two year sex drought? i asked

maybe, she said.
she sucked on her drink and then sucked on her smoke

she winked at me
and everything around us smelt like cinnamon

you mean you don’t believe in jesus? calvin asked

i believe in the environment around us
and the magic of sex, she told us
we believe that religion and magic and wisdom are all united

you don’t know many catholics do you? i said
catholics will kill you where you stand

there’s a reason for your two year drought, she said
you’re angry, you’re not open enough

then she winked at me again
i started thinking about having sex with this wiccan
this wicked witch of pittsburgh

chanting naked in the woods
drinking deer blood and dancing around a fire
sacrificing whole neighborhoods of working stiffs
then praying to the moon
before we made tantric love on the cold ground

a little less angry
a little bit more open
her black lipstick on my neck

when she said, calvin, we do it just like everyone else
in committed, loving, monogamous relationships

then she winked at me a third time
before i got up to get another beer
and a shot of cheap bourbon

pumping dollars into the jukebox

thinking that only the buddhists
have never let me down.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

poem of the day 07.09.14

a vacation to antigua

trying to kill
w. somerset maugham

but the television in the waiting room is so loud
there’s no point in even compiling
an independent thought

there is another celebrity on the screen
some bubbly blonde who’s been around longer
than her talent should’ve allowed

she’s forty-one but looks twenty
and everyone in the waiting room is wowed by her

we’re obviously not at the plastic surgeon

the actress is talking about her new movie
a comedy, a sex comedy

you can see everything, she says

a few people in the waiting room tisk
one lady shouts, if you’ve got it flaunt it

we’re lobbing hackneyed phrases out there
on a hot july afternoon

the interviewer asks the actress about children
she shakes her head and laughs

motherhood is too hard, she says. i could never do it
then she giggles and shakes her million dollar ass

in the waiting room there is a mutiny boiling

mothers, aunts, grandmothers, great aunts
and mothers-to-be are all scowling at the television

they suddenly hate this actress

she’s selfish, one of them says

who does she think she is, another shouts
prancing around on screen with her tits hanging out?

grow up, they shout

my children are my greatest joy, one says to another

they both nod the gentle nod of motherhood
as their kids continue to run around the waiting room
knocking over magazines
and smacking at the glass door with their fat palms

i look up at the television
the blonde actress’ face is wide with contentment
her eyes sparkle and her teeth are white

she’s everything we’ve ever paid our money to see

then i go back to
w. somerset maugham

as the interviewer asks her
about her rock star boyfriend

and the vacation that she took to antigua.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

poem of the day 07.08.14

nihil humanum a me alienum puto

this is a disney bar now
or it looks like one out of a disney movie

there are more televisions in the joint
then there are people

the people look like cartoons at last
blonde and tanned and without an ounce of fat

i don’t recognize the beers on tap
and the ones that i do are too rich for my blood

i can’t believe that i used to drink here
back when they broke the windows and the toilet never worked
and fights broke out as a matter of course on friday night

now there are fake fireplaces in the wall
and a beer garden out back

there is soccer playing on each and every television
and a digital jukebox playing pop on low

one of the blondes asks me what team i’m rooting for
and i respond, whatever teams ends this game the quickest

that ends the conversation

the chinese still come in here
hocking their bootleg dvds of the worst america
has to offer the world of cinematic art

back then the old guys used to pause from their drinks
to scan the movies and make conversation with the bootleggers

now no one says a thing to them
they watch soccer and have the bartender
pour them another expensive beer while they check their cell phones

more blonde and tan people shout from outside
because the beer garden has a television too

when the chinese bootlegger leaves
the three blondes drinking three red drinks with citrus fruit
all look at each other like they smelled a fart
the one says to the other two
oh my god, that’s like the third time
they’ve been in here today

like, get a life, one of the other ones says

they go back to watching the soccer match
almost two hours of dutch and costa rican men
running up and down the pitch and there’s still no score

they all look the same anyway, one of the blondes says

but who? i wonder are they talking about

the chinese
the sweating soccer players
or the rest of us.


Monday, July 7, 2014

poem of the day 07.07.14

the old man at the corner

the old man at the corner
hates this red light

it’s imperiling his freedom

his car is almost a block long
it’s sucking out black smoke
while he’s sucking gray smoke out of cigar

he’s blasting the star-spangled banner
the way teenagers blast rap

but he has an indignant look on his face
instead of the smirk of life-long privilege
that his type usually wears around on patriotic holidays

maybe it’s the rain and the wind
maybe it’s the mexicans outside the grocery
laughing and speaking spanish as they haul
more corn and watermelon from a graffiti-covered truck

whatever it is that’s bothering him
it’s making me feel sad and cautious

old white men idling at corners
shouldn’t look so down on the fourth of july

it’s like seeing a sad kid at christmas

christ, if old white men can’t enjoy the day
what hope do the rest of us have here?

i watch him waiting for the light to turn
glaring up at that neon and red communist ball of light
as the star-spangled banner reaches its crescendo

i think maybe i should skip the booze store
run across the street and try my best to cheer him up

together we could recite the declaration of independence
reminisce about the good old days
tell our best reagan story

but suddenly the streetlight
turns that familiar sea foam green

and the old man at the corner is gone with a horn blast

the opening bars of oh, beautiful
coming out of his big hunk of detroit wonder

as the sky breaks
and the sun trickles along the pavement

as if saying
there’s still hope for america


Thursday, July 3, 2014

poem of the day 07.03.14


skip and i were the two idiots
scheduled for fourth of july

an all-day shift selling sporting goods at the mall
because nothing says america like commerce

there was no one in the mall
but the old and the lonely
and those who didn’t believe in the fallacy
of the american dream

we’d watched all of the sporting videos that we could

skip said, back in college….

he always had a story about college
everything good and true and right and erotic
had happened to skip in college

….i was dating this girl
she liked to do it anywhere and everywhere, he said

is that right, i said
i was eighteen and had yet to have a girl
who wanted to do it anywhere and everywhere

skip was thirty and had been in a self-admitted drought
for five years

one night we were out right after a blizzard, he said
there was all of this snow

skip smiled at the memory

we were drunk, he said
and we started making out right by these huge snow drifts
next thing i know we’re on the ground
and she’s on all fours with her pants down and her ass in the air

what did you do? i said
i wished that there were more sports videos to watch

because there was nothing more depressing
than hearing someone else’s sex stories
especially when you weren’t getting any your way

skip rolled his eyes, what do you think i did?
i dropped my drawers
got right down there on my knees in the snow drift
and the two of us let nature take its course

skip smiled, we didn’t care who saw us

okay, i said
i thought he was lying

you haven’t fucked until you’ve fucked frozen, he said

well, that night i was back at the mall
with all of my pals

a bunch of guys who weren’t getting laid
in snowdrifts or otherwise

we were there to see the fireworks

next to us was a pack of college girls
in their college clothing playing patriotic songs
out of a jukebox

i wondered what it would take in me to talk to one of them
i wondered if any of them ever fucked frozen

i pictured all of their bare asses in the air
in huge snowdrifts on a cold february night

then i thought, the hell with them

i want back to watching all of those ugly colors
explode in the black sky

as one of my friends threw smoke bombs
under people’s cars

laughing as packs of families scattered to and fro

while god bless america
played all around us


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

poem of the day 07.02.14

and the sheep goes bah

i’ve been trolling this old pal on facebook
because we are no longer friends for ideological reasons
and because he became a right wing douche bag

right now i’m living through constant anger
but he seems happy though

his been married for a number of years now

his wife has managed to squeeze out
a few heirs to his throne
while making a ton of money
and letting him stay home to raise the kids

i’m almost sure that he doesn’t call anyone
these days to talk about divorce

he looks like he’s settled in to this suburban life
of god, guns, and government

bald as a baby’s ass and physically fit
dressed to the nines in khaki pants or shorts
a flashy t-shirt or a polo that reeks of cologne

the pictures from his hackneyed vacations
seem like g-rated fun in the sun

they are dull enough to get the neighbors jealous anyway

those wild days of strip clubs
and hooker blow jobs are long in his rearview

there’s no need to pay for sex
when there’s ovulation on the horizon

and he probably hasn’t had a hangover in a decade

he’s a stand-up guy by all accounts
hell, the bible is listed as his favorite book

he’s now living his halcyon days
like a champion of the american dream

a true success story
a model for us all

weekend barbeques and church trips to cathedrals
little league games and lemonade ejaculations

fireworks every fourth of july

and always

asleep by nine o’clock on a quiet cul-de-sac

where cars never idle or honk their horns
where kids are seen but not heard

somewhere over the rainbow

where even the dogs are too polite to bark
or take their shits on the street


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

poem of the day 07.01.14

seeing the karl hendricks trio, april 1996

it had to happen for me in west virginia
some joy, some thing
man, i had been down on love 
so many girls and so little time for them to want me

but i soon realized that barry had no clear clue where he was taking us

we took i-279 south a bit
then we drove aimlessly through western pennsylvania

two hours later we were on the outskirts of west virginia and ohio

barry jerked the car into the parking lot of a star america grocery store
he began frantically searching the front seat

what’re you doing, man? i asked.

oh, i think i might have a map in here somewhere, barry said
in that casual, happy way he had back then

we never found the map
we were lost in our own neck of the woods

we ended up down a seedy stretch of road in wellsburg
where i had all of these kid memories bum rushing me
from the year my family spent doing time in that dirt town

i thought about all of the fights that my folks had
the divorce talk, the other bullshit

my mood was getting as black
as the night sky

barry was getting more and more nervous and angry
at each wrong turn we took

for me, we couldn’t leave fast enough

then the rains came 
they were light at first and easy to navigate
but after a few moments it poured hard and unmanageable 

barry pulled into an exxon station and let the car idle 
we sat there listening to the pellets of rain smack off the hood of the car
not really saying a word

maybe we should build an ark, barry said

i pointed through my smeared window
to the warm glow of the exxon shop

i’m going in there , i said
if the next set of directions are shit then i say we bag this
we'll catch the trio sometime back in pittsburgh

but it had to happen for me in west virginia

the directions that i got were on the mark. 
we made bethany college in almost no time after that
even the rains had stopped for us
barry sailed the car through the blackened west virginia night
like a pro 

when we reached the college
the auditorium was already packed with kids
listening to the karl hendricks trio
it was as if karl had lifted his scene from pittsburgh
and transplanted it into the midst of a secluded west virginia college

he had them so enraptured
in the grip of madness and joy

breathless and soaked to the bone
i took it all in 

that thing

and i let those proustian nightmares
just slip away