Tuesday, September 30, 2014

poem of the day 09.30.14


i don’t believe in writer’s block

but here i am
6:05 in the morning
and i can’t think of a thing

maybe my life is just not interesting enough
maybe there’s too much shit going on

it’s late september and hot as hell
here in babylon
it was a cool summer
but they are giving it to us in the end

everything seems flipped
on its head these days or gone backward

beheadings, drones, war, and racists in the heartland

there is more to digest
but it all ends up causing stomach pains

i can’t even get drunk right

and the philistine upstairs is blasting his tv again
maybe he’s doing it the correct way

he’s certainly not sitting here at 6:05
suffering over bad poems

sweating with music and the bad news of the world
trying to come in through radio static

he has cheery morning anchors on
i can hear their exuberance through the thin walls

there is nothing worse than cherry morning anchors

except maybe
hemorrhoids or herpes 

only in millions of cases
both of those are completely curable.                                        

Monday, September 29, 2014

poem of the day 09.29.14

the ghost of bugs bunny

he had two rabbit teeth
carried a tattered suitcase
and hung around the reading room
in the library with the other bums

we saw each other on my smoke breaks
occasionally i’d let him bum one

one afternoon i was outside playing at writer
with all of these poems scattered on the pavement
putting together a manuscript that no one
but one friend and my girlfriend would ever read

when he said, is that your life’s work?

sorta, i said

bugs bunny tapped his tattered suitcase
this is my life’s work, he said
poems, novels, short stories
thirty-six years of hard work

shit, i thought
there’s my future if i keep
at this grand larceny of my life and time

i started gathering the poems up off of the ground
i wondered if the banks were hiring

he said, never give up
never give up is my motto

okay, i said
because quit and quit hard was mine

i put all of the poems in my bag
i planned on the ritual burning at midnight

you gotta have a dream, he said
he tapped his suitcase again

and i thought about
the thousands upon thousands
of unread words farted
on all of that yellow paper

i gave him a smoke
without his even asking

then i went back inside the library
intent on finding something else to kill the hours with

but i never did

and i never saw
that old word slinger again.


Friday, September 19, 2014


Winedrunk Sidewalk will be on hiatus until Monday, September 29th.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

poem of the day 09.18.14

the good times are killing me

we wait for seth to say
time for vodka shots?
as if that’s the question of the hour

three beers deep
a bottle or so of wine at home to be consumed

forty years old and for some reason
i keep hanging on to all of this

when i want so hard to stop and let go

the good times are killing me
and seth and you and everyone who’s always in here
the stomach burns and the sides hurt
only what the doctors don’t know won’t hurt ‘em

cheers, seth says
he’s not trying to be ironic but…

we take the shots down and he says,
man, all i want is my girl back

even though she cracked his face a few times
and left him knee deep in family misery

but abandonment makes the heart grow fonder
or so i’ve been told

and when seth picks up our pints
for round four on the house
there’s no point in stopping him
because we know where the real joy comes from

so i slouch off the stool
to put two more greenbacks in the juke

hear seth talking to you
the same sad story over and over again

his redundancy as brilliant as ours

the american dream in full bloom here
this lonely afternoon.                                                    

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

poem of the day 09.17.14

ode to the strip joints

twenty-one in pittsburgh
i guess there wasn’t much for guys like us to do
if we didn’t want to go to the bars or clubs

we went to strip joints some nights

for calvin and steve
it was a chance to see half-naked women

for me it was a chance
to get away from the only one
that i was currently seeing naked

the joints were never as bad
as people made them out to be

yes, they were smoky and soaked in neon
and the beer was over-priced

the bouncers could be assholes too

but the strip joints were a refuge of a sort
a place to hang your loneliness there with everyone else

plus there were the half-naked girls dancing
to r&b and heavy metal music

most of the women and their names
time has forgotten for me

but we liked this one, majesty

she was a buxom redhead with big tits and a nice ass
that she always loved to shove in your face
before you handed her over a dollar

she could’ve been twenty-five or forty back then
she could still be stripping now

majesty always paid attention to us guys
maybe because we looked gullible
or because we were the youngest ones in the joint

lord knows she made her money off of us
calvin and steve always fought over which one of them
was going to take her home

the strip joints were also places of magnificent fantasy

until one night majesty planted a kiss
right on steve’s glasses
fogging them with hot pink lipstick
that he could never get completely off

well, that pissed him good

so instead of hitting the strip joints
we spent some nights casing downtown pittsburgh
looking for whores

which calvin and steve thought
was kind of like doing the same thing

but from my drunken position in the backseat
looking at all of the closed-up shops
in the desolate city of my birth

listening to them argue about which one was going first
as i imagined majesty twirling and hustling

sticking that gorgeous ass in some other guy’s face

i felt that it was something different
almost sinister

like cheating indeed.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

poem of the day 09.16.14

pictures of jesus

my grandma
had a picture of jesus
hanging on her bedroom wall

it was the one where jesus’ eyes were shut

but if you watched the picture it seemed
as if they were following you around the room

it was a creepy optical illusion
like watching a politician pass a vital law

my aunt had a picture
of jesus on his cross
looking down upon the earth from heaven
i think

and every time i saw the thing
all i could think was

shit, that’s a big piece of wood

the other day
i took a picture of a statue of jesus
holding the two world trade centers in his hands

i was going to put it on my facebook page
with the caption: the day jesus said oops

but i didn’t feel like
being an asshole that day

so i deleted the photo from my camera
and walked along

until i came to an intersection
with the bright sun bleeding onto the urban stage
of people scratching their asses
and waiting to cross the street

thinking this is as close
to god or jesus that i’ll ever get

so i started snapping away.        

You can read this wonderful review of my new poem book Starting with the Last Name Grochalski 
right HERE.  Thank you Ada Fetters from Commonline Journal!


Monday, September 15, 2014

poem of the day 09.15.14

juvenilia we

though i have a few hanging in my closet
that i never wear

i still find it strange to see grown men
walking around in t-shirts and jerseys
with another man’s surname stitched across the back

the virile american male
hoisting a pint and screaming in front
of sixteen widescreen televisions on a sunday afternoon
dressed like a kept woman in her boyfriend’s clothes

or maybe it’s just that the american male
dresses like a child to compensate for something else

like this guy on the train shouting at his woman

he must be pushing fifty
but he’s got his ball cap cocked sideways
a triple x sized football jersey on
and baggy nike air shorts that go down to his ankles

he has a gold necklace of his favorite team
that keeps hitting him in the chin
every time he turns to give his woman the verbal business

he looks angry and about ten years old
save the gray hair on his sides and the wrinkles all over

maybe he’s got a small penis
or simply has a bitch for a wife

i suppose the same argument could be made for older women
still trying to dress like teenage fuck doll queens

it’s bad fashion sense or a sign of the times

there was once a time when men wore suits for leisure
and women wore skirts in a field of play
and that didn’t make much sense either

still, i’m curious where this is going

like i wonder what awaits me
forty years from now
when they finally lock me up with the other senior citizens

will it be like it always was?
floral print and polyester handed out at the door

or will it be a room full of old sad bastards
dressed like children

wrinkled women
with suggestive phrases written across
their wide and flabby asses
and their tits hanging out for popular consumption

and rooms full of wasted men of all races
with their hats on backwards
gold chains and their underwear hanging out
listening to rap music and calling each other nigga

as we all sip soup through straws
and wait for our medicines to lull us into
a nice and peaceful rest

from our everlasting youth.


Friday, September 12, 2014

poem of the day 09.12.14

on her knees

i thought
that i was supposed
to sit on her knees

fourteen years-old
and i was the fattest kid in the place

some weeklong summer camp
that my parents sent me to for future leaders

i didn’t want to be a leader
future or otherwise

but i didn’t want to be lead

still i thought
that i was supposed to sit on her knees

jenny clemente
the cutest girl in the place

it was some kind of trust exercise

so i started making fat jokes
because i was good at doing that
i was a born leader at making fat jokes

i made the fat jokes
before someone could make them for me

jenny kept giving me a look
that i didn’t understand

most people laughed when i made fat jokes
it gave me an inflated sense of self despite my girth

but jenny looked sad
her leadership skill had to be her empathy

when it was time to do the trust exercise
it was jenny who had to sit on my knees

for a minute or two
her warm ass cheeks just resting there
while i wondered if they did things like this
in the white house

but then it hit me
shit, she thought that i was making fat jokes
about her

god i felt so bad
i knew that i had to establish a d├ętente

when the exercise was over
i tapped jenny on the shoulder
and said, i’m….

but she gave me the finger

then walked over to the other side of the room
toward this guy she’d been flirting with all week

mike kosinski
he was the cutest boy in the place

jenny whispered something in his ear
then the two of them stared me down

my very own power couple

looking like they wanted to bomb my fat ass
back into the stone age.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

poem of the day 09.11.14


she was insistent
that i drive out to her house to get my stuff

i don’t want your stuff hanging
around here anymore

it had been less than a week since we’d ended

i’m sick of looking at
all of your stuff, she told me on the phone

i went out to her house on a saturday night
a week before we had been going to the movies
or going out for bad mexican food
having bad sex in her bedroom

now we were face to face in her dining room
with all of my stuff scattered on the table
and two black garbage bags
like deflated balloons hung over a chair

i want you to take your stuff and go, she said
but then she started crying when i began packing everything

i hate you, she said
she ran upstairs to play more
sad break-up music on her stereo

it was supposed to be symbolic
the music boomed throughout her house
i just kept thinking of the poor neighbors
who had to put up with our shit

while she was gone
i got most of my stuff into one black garbage bag
old denim shorts, hoodies
books i’d let her borrow that she’d never read

she had two of my poetry manuscripts
and i was glad to have them back

the poetry inside was bad but at least it was mine

she’d ripped out both dedications
and had them crumpled into a ball
with more of my stuff

i tried to leave before she came back down
but i wasn’t fast enough

what’s this? she said, pointing back into the dining room
there’s still stuff on the table

true….but it was stuff that i had given her as gifts
stuffed animals, a framed photo, perfume, a tin ring
a journal because she wanted to be a poet too

she had the christmas ornament that i’d given her
on the table too

that’s not my stuff, i said

well, i don’t want them, she said
she tore into the dining room like a maniac
and started putting all of that stuff into the other garbage bag
including the crumpled dedications

all of your poems are lies, she said

the music was booming in her home so loudly
that i couldn’t think

i couldn’t wait to get out of there
i needed a cigarette and a vodka

some friends and i, we were going to a bar later
to meet a few girls and talk about some stuff

here, she said
she tossed the other garbage bag at me

it landed at my feet with some stuffed animal
looking me right in the eye

so i grabbed the other bag and hit the road
while she wailed and her shitty, loud music played

i crossed her street for the last time

i looked like some sad sack santa claus
with two huge bags of stuff slung over my back

then i sat in my car
i smoked a cigarette
and read some of my bad poems

i watched her watching me
from her dining room

you could hear the music blasting from outside

then she shut the light off
and i crushed my smoke

i threw the poetry manuscripts in the back seat
and drove off with no music playing

thinking it was hard to be the sensitive artist type

and wondering where in the hell
i could find a garbage can big enough
to hold all of this stuff.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

poem of the day 09.10.14

homeless guy on the n train

he’s taken up
a residency here

found a place in new york
where the rents won’t put your daydreams into hock

and when he stands to slap box his shadow, man
…see how they run

he’s scaring the stiffs
who get on here every day
with their ten-gallon coffees and smartphones

various scents of whore perfume
and gigolo cologne

enough of a pleasant odor to choke the air
from brooklyn to manhattan

fearful blobs standing huddled
against the poles and doors

powdered faces into scented armpits into
primped coifed hair into manicured fingers

anywhere around him
there’s always a seat to chose

as sea of plastic that he slides up and down

the ghost of christmas yet to come for millions
with his arms flailing and beatific smile on his face

making little kids laugh
when he pulls his dirty green snowcap
over his dirty green face

until their mothers pull them away
throw a video game machine
in their hands 

to beep and blop away the vagrancy    
plucking away at his beard like a fiddle                         

Monday, September 8, 2014

poem of the day 09.08.14

george the racist

george the racist
used to lean against the bar
with his workman clothes
and his vodka and orange juice

he’d guard the door
in case any unknown undesirables
would try to get inside the joint

it took nearly two years for the man
to stop glaring at me

he was a slum lord
who had it in for all minorities

once a black tattoo artist
came in for a beer

you would’ve thought someone
had taken a shit in george’s drink

when he left george the racist
sucked down half of his vodka-orange
then turned up his face like he was crying
to mock the black and mexicans and chinese

oh, poor me, he cried
oh why can’t the government help me

motherfuckers, he grumbled

then he sunk back into his white male privilege
to kill off the other half of his drink

before whipping out a stack of bills
all that rent money given him by his sworn enemies
to buy himself another round
like he was the king of close-minded brooklyn

i didn’t like george the racist for obvious reasons

but mostly for the way he glared at me
those two years
when all i was trying to do
was have a drink or three to shake off
my work day

i figured if it ever went down for me
in that place
it would either be with him
or with someone else because of him

but it never happened
the bar closed instead

and the whole lot of us scattered like flies
toward new piles of shit

george the racist drinks down at dean’s now
with the few who can still tolerate him

sometimes i think about
going down there for a drink or three
just to see what would happen

see if good old george
would start staring me down again
as if i were new

but it’s not worth it to me

and, besides
if i want to be watched
i can stand on any street corner in america
at any time

where the george the racists
running the government

keep their eyes on everyone
no matter what color you are.


Friday, September 5, 2014

poem of the day 09.05.14

margaret in 5G

took me for a potential rapist
in the laundry room
once when i was trying to wash
my stained underwear

now, she’s rapping on my door with her cane
because she can’t get her ass
back up to her own apartment
with both elevators broken in this place

my how the tides have turned, i think
sipping on the first of many wines

but i get up to help margaret anyway
because vindictiveness is not all
that it’s cracked up to be

she’s sweat-soaked and confused in the lobby

she says, it’s so hot
i tell her that’s because she’s wearing a jacket
in ninety-degree heat

she’s like a hunchback walking around in circles
dazed and confused on a wednesday night

i hope to christ that i never get this old and helpless
that i’ll have courage to throw myself
in the east river if i can’t even get in my front door

margaret says, grab my bags, will you?

she smacks a sack of barnes and noble bags with that cane
and i grab them all like we’re both coming home
from a day of shopping in the city

margaret says, get behind me, god damn it
so i don’t fall

and for five flights i’m on her like i’m lester hayes
as we take one step at a time
in the sweltering sludge of this dying summer

the trim and the fit
are racing up and down the steps

a few look and shake their heads
either at margaret or at me

they are the new breed in this building and i despise them all

by the fifth floor i feel like shit
i can smell that glass of wine coming through
my nostrils and my pores

margaret still has that jacket on
she’s a stream of sweat and damp hair
and i wonder how in the hell she’s still doing it

she says, put my bags by the door
so i do

then i come back over to get her
but she waves me away

margaret says, you want anything for doing this?
like a drink or some money?

i tell her no and then introduce myself
so that maybe next time in the laundry room
we can both just fold our sheets instead of hurling accusations

then head back down the stairs
it’s much easier this way

i pass some jack ass
kicking at the stalled elevator door

he’s forty years younger than margaret
and i got about fifteen on him

he sighs and grunts
tells me how this is a bunch of bullshit

then he goes back to manically pressing buttons
smacking his head against the door
praying, betting on the fountain of youth
to get him there.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

poem of the day 09.04.14

little victories

side street
green lawns
lined with the
smiling visage
of a tax evading
who will probably be
into this american
meat grinder
for a third or fourth term
this fall
instead of going to jail
and there are
two cops
smiling in the
morning sun
writing parking tickets
to the sound
of beethoven’s third
as an old man
yells at them
his wife holding
the front door
screaming and crying
for his old
stupid ass
to get back inside
to let these
brave heroes
do their job
to let them
winning the war
on sanity
that this country
has declared
us all


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

poem of the day 09.03.14

it pays to drink at home

a jukebox full of my hard-earned dollars
playing james brown and the temptations

and it’s still not good enough for this guy

he has to have his cell phone blasting
some club song to impress his friends
when the bartender comes over to see what’s up

he says, whatever, man, i’m puetro rican
by way of an excuse

it’s been a long hard summer that won’t end

i’ll be honest i’ve been looking
to hurt someone since june
and this guy sort of fits the bill

so i glare at him until he notices
hoping he wants to go the rounds

instead he shuts the phone off and shrugs to his buddies

he starts talking about how he was a marine
looking at me while he tells everyone around him
how tough you got to be to get through basic

then he and his buddies have another margarita

he complains to the bartender how last time
he used too much lime juice

then they start quoting classic films
and giggling like little girls
as smokey robinson struggles over the din

and the bartender says to me
hey, man, you ever chase a vodka shot
with a glass of pickled beet juice?

pouring me something ice white and blood red
into two perfect little glasses
meant to take it all away

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

poem of the day 09.02.14

two patriots

he licks his crisco lips
wipes the mcdonald’s grease off his mouth

he says, and don’t get me started
on that traitor in the white house

oh, that commie, she says
sucking down coca-cola through an oil pipe

i’m a revolutionary, he says
the silent majority reborn
i have to watch my mouth or else the government
will be on me like white on rice

speaking of white, she says
and they both laugh

my friend’s husband is a cop
he said all that missouri black had to do
was go along with it and get processed

i mean what’s the big deal?
it’s not like he didn’t know the drill

he says, it’s the way them kids dress
as he hershey stains another disney shirt
if they didn’t dress that way
the cops wouldn’t be on their asses like that

it’s their parents, she says
they were probably criminals
so what chance did he have?

i mean really, he says
flipping his zippo and daydreaming
those smoky marlboro skies

and come to think of it, iraq, syria
whatever happened to just blowing
them fuckers to bits?

have we lost our guts or what?

i’d make it all a parking lot, she says
rows and rows of jeeps and fords
as far as the eye can see

that’s too far, he says
why don’t we just nuke mexico
and make that the parking lot?

that poor cop, she says, burping budweiser sonnets
someone should take up a fund for him

a good ol’ boy just trying to do his job, he says
just like all the rest of us

it’s getting harder and harder for us here, she says
you can’t even be a patriot anymore
without somebody giving you shit

god bless america, he says

america love it or leave it, she says
scratching her ass and sniffing it

my country right or wrong, he says

yeah, she says
but for how much longer?