Tuesday, December 25, 2018


the music box

there is a music box
that plays in the foyer of my building

fat, jolly santa at a piano
pounding the yuletide favorites

the superintendent and his wife
put it out there every year
when they decorate

and every year they let their monster child
scooter up and down the hallway
and past my apartment door

as they sing carols and put up decorations

then they go back into their apartment
far away from the santa music box

where they don’t have to hear
tiny christmas songs pouring into their home
all evening and into night like i have to

every year the super has christmas up without fail
yet my water-logged roof continues to crumble into dust

and the cockroaches here
are turning into an army

i try to be a good neighbor about the music box

for the old bats who sit in the foyer
talking about their pasts

for the young professionals coming home from work
playing on their phones
as they collect their amazon packages

but after a few drinks i go into the hallway
and shut the music off

there is only so much christmas a man can take

and they play the music at work
and in the liquor store anyway

this battle usually goes on for about a week

the super and his wife turn on the music box
and stand guard over it
as their child screams and howls and scoots

and then later i stumble out and shut it off
after they’ve gone

eventually someone gives up until the new year

i’ve thought about sending a message
smashing the santa music box
and leaving it in pieces outside the super’s door

finishing this little war
once and for all

but i have a reputation here of being drunk and unkind

and someone in the building
is selling heroin to high school kids
and they have cameras up all over the place here now

so it’s jingle bells, jingle bells for me
off and on until armageddon or january comes

and the super takes christmas back down
until the next time

with his brat kids scootering up and down the hallway

as the music box plays its last carol

and i sit in my apartment
watching yellow pieces of my ceiling
fall onto the dusty wooden floor.

--John Grochalski


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