Wednesday, September 11, 2019


the leafblower

nights without hope these days
nights we descend into the darkness
find solace only in the bottle
and he is blowing leaves across the street
with the sun down on defeated brooklyn
the whirling sound, the echo chamber of noise
the rich townhouses across the street
that stand in such contrast to my crumbling building
i stop mid-argument with my wife
slam down the tumbler of double vodka number two
and tell her someone has gotta do something
about these privileged bastards
before i know it i’m wobbling across the avenue
half-dressed, half-drunk
waving my hands like the neighborhood lunatic
catching him in silhouette
wondering if he’s the one whose always buzz-sawing
or the guy who yells at delivery men
when they idle in front of his narrowly carved driveway
or is it the asshole whose alarm goes off all-day every christmas eve
because he takes the family off to some resort in mexico
but i’m met with a small brown man
leafblower at his side like a riffle
cigarette hanging out of his mouth
what the fuck? i ask him over the cacophony
because i’ve come too far to stop now
i wave my arms as if he doesn’t know the night
as if he’s not working in it
while i, done with my day, happily pour poison on my liver
he shrugs and shuts the machine off
we stand there like enemy combatants
arguing over our particular situations
his patron looking out their wide window from time to time
until he finally says, look, it’s a job, man
like i should understand this but i don’t
because something has been lost for me
in the years of sitting on the couch
contemplating no one else’s malaise but my own
there’s nothing to do but slink across the avenue
exchanging finger gestures at speeding cars
and ecological warnings at that wide window
stark counsel that my own government doesn’t even care about
he goes back to leafblowing under the hidden super-moon
i go back to the couch, my wife
and the inevitability of double vodka number three
thinking about nights of promise
nights we could ascend into the light
then i get up again and go back out into the evening
stumble across the avenue with my hands in the air
like i’ve surrendered
as he shuts the machine off and puts it down
standing there with one fist balled for combat
the other hand open like a gesture of kindness
waiting on me to decide
how best to apologize.

--John Grochalski

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