Sunday, April 9, 2017


forty three

my mother
is on the phone
asking me if i need new shoes
i can send you a gift card for new shoes
i tell her i don’t need the money
i’m just cheap and lazy, mom
she says
but i gotta send you something
like it’s a moral imperative
because she’s the one who helped throw me into this life
i tell her send it to planned parenthood
send it to the goddamned ACLU
my wife
wants to know what i want to do that day
maybe the movies
maybe a museum
maybe jumping off the brooklyn bridge
as if turning forty three is something to look forward to
maybe it is…if you’re hitting sixty
but i don’t know
from a young age
i knew i’d missed out on some essential zest for life
something that kept me separate
from the boisterous, loquacious rush of my peers
all i ever needed was a tv and an empty room
and now i don’t even have that petty youth to squander
i don’t want to sound like an ingrate
i’d just as soon forget my 15, 695 day on the planet and move on
get a little drunk and have that be that
to be honest i don’t have a clue
what i want to do with the day…or the next twenty years
should i even make it that far
it gets sort of depressing
all this hanging around and taking up unnecessary space
filling up the moments
with good books and other small joys
watching societies rise and fall
listening to the same blather by weak-jawed strong men
while sucking down the same food and the same booze
spinning the same mouse wheel
thinking tomorrow could be a triumph
if it’s only somewhat different than today
wondering when the true freedom is going to come
it’s not right to think like that
it’s almost un-american
with all of the disease and suffering
with all of the people dying in endless wars
a few DNA strands gone another way
and i could be dead in a ditch in mosul
or a sex slave to the boko haram
and what is true freedom?
today i feel like a selfish american
a petulant yankee child who wants to curl into a ball on the floor
and kick and kick and kick at the wall
until he gets what he wants
having no clue what he wants
i didn’t build this world, i want to shout
but i can feel my complicity in its malaise
with every breath
with every sour ride home from work on the evening bus
maybe one day it’ll feel different
like when i’m sixty years old
sitting on the couch with a good stiff drink
looking back on life like i’d fought a good battle
or thinking i hope i don’t have to keep doing this at eighty
reading a poem by some forty three year old asshole
who thinks his whole fragile world is at low ebb
all because he’s having
a shit morning
turning into a pissy day
...provided we don't destroy the world first

--John Grochalski


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