Monday, December 3, 2018


happy holidays

the streets are lined
with light-up snowflakes
and candy canes
before fall’s first frost

last week it was still eighty degrees
and the president was denying climate change

at work my co-worker
tells anyone who will listen
that her christmas tree goes up
before thanksgiving

people think we rush this shit now
but their memories are short

twenty-five years ago
i was walking out of a mall
after slaving away my halloween
for an ex-jock bully manager
as the mall was putting up
christmas decorations
while simultaneously taking down the halloween ones

the visual was like something
out of a schlocky tim burton film

you haven’t really gone to hell and back
during this season
unless you’ve worked retail

weeks later at that store
people had me pressed up against a wall
salivating for baseball hats and sports team coats

practically killing each other over things
they wouldn’t care about come spring

years later
down’n’out at that wine store in buffalo
they started pumping christmas music on november first

that blubbering dim wit of a store manager
worked us nine to nine every single day
then nine to eleven the week before new year’s eve

on lunches we drank in the bar across the street
on breaks we passed around a jug of cheap vodka
inside the nearest employee parked car

puking up our lives in that cracked parking lot
for a shit paycheck and the privilege to work

toward the end
i sat in the staff room shitter and cried

and i get PTSD sometimes when i hear jingle bells

last night on tv
they had christmas commercials
about treating yourself this season

black friday can be all about you
if you hope and you wish hard enough

it seems about right for the times we’re living in now
capitalism in its full circle glory

these days
my only wish is to get through
the holidays with some semblance of dignity

with my soul in tact
as the nation’s rots anew
on its avarice and greed

tip-toe through the days
keep my shit together until it all ends

and wake up on january second
trying my best to feel like a brand-new man
amidst the dead pine trees collecting on the sidewalks

and all of the sour, empty faces
stumbling around like hangovers

the new year is always sure to bring.

--John Grochalski

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