“In the Building” By Tony Gloeggler

 

 

 

IN THE BUILDING

The group home is getting dressed
for Halloween and Harry’s picked
the shiny white Elvis jump suit.
It’s way too tight. Two counselors
struggle to pull the top over
his shoulders, finally fit his arms
into sleeves. His stomach sticks
out like he’s ten months pregnant
and the workers try not to laugh.
Harry wants to know whether
he can eat five slices of pizza
at the party as he struts
toward the mirror, announces
that he looks like a fucking
dickhead. I nod, tell him
he sure does, ask if he prefers
the Humpty Dumpty costume.
He pauses, curls his top lip
like the King, strums an imaginary
guitar and sings I Can’t Help
Falling In Love as the workers
slow dance across the floor.

 

(This poem first appeared in Quercus)

 

About Tony Gloeggler: I am a life-long resident of New York City and have managed group homes for the mentally challenged for over 35 years. My work has appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, Rattle, The Examined Life Journal, Raleigh Review, New Ohio Review, Stirring and The NY Times. My full length books include One Wish Left(Pavement Saw Press 2002) and Until The Last Light Leaves (NYQ Books 2015) which focused on my job and the autistic son of a former girlfriend. My next book, What Kind Of Man, will be published by NYQ Books in 2019.

 

More By Tony Gloeggler

“Crossing”

“Visitor’s Day at the Group Home”

 

Image Credit: “You Auto Have a Happy Hallowe’en” International Art Publishing Company (1907) Missouri History Museum, Public Domain

“Visitor’s Day at the Group Home” By Tony Gloeggler

 

 

VISITOR’S DAY AT THE GROUP HOME

Robert, twenty-one yesterday,
walks down stairs carefully.
Both hands clench rails. Head
down, he watches each foot land.
Reaching bottom, he claps twice,
sees her and smiles. He mumbles
and she knows he’s saying mommy.
She hugs him close. Drool slides
down the back of her neck. “Mommy
missed Robert so much.” He digs
into the shopping bag of gifts,
finds a Walkman. She clamps
the headphones on him. He bobs
like a spastic puppet to the Supremes
Greatest Hits. She opens a pint
of rice pudding, starts to spoon it
into his mouth. I pass her a handful
of napkins. Later, she lays his head
in her lap, sings Happy Birthday
and lights matchsticks to wish on.
I place a coloring book, his special
extra thick crayons on the table.
He scribbles interlocking spirals
while his eyes track her movements.
A car horn sounds and she steps
to the window, motions ‘just
a moment’ with her hand.
She bends, kisses Robert’s
forehead.  “See you next week
sweetheart.” We nod goodbye
as she pushes open the door.
Robert throws a blue crayon
across the room, crumples
the scribbled page. He stands,
climbs up the stairs and fits
into his bed, his clothes still on.

 

This poem first appeared in Wordgathering

 

About Tony Gloeggler: I am a life-long resident of New York City and have managed group homes for the mentally challenged for over 35 years. My work has appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, Rattle, The Examined Life Journal, Raleigh Review, New Ohio Review, Stirring and The NY Times. My full length books include One Wish Left(Pavement Saw Press 2002) and Until The Last Light Leaves (NYQ Books 2015) which focused on my job and the autistic son of a former girlfriend. My next book, What Kind Of Man, will be published by NYQ Books in 2019.

 

More By Tony Gloeggler

“Crossing”

 

Image Credit: “Astrale Komposition XI” by Wilhelm Morgner (1911) Public Domain

“Crossing” By Tony Gloeggler

 

CROSSING

Larry turned eighteen
in May. He knows
what red and green mean,
walks to the corner
and looks both ways.
Today, he’s on his own
for the first time.
He walks out the door.
I count to thirty, follow.
Hidden behind the stoop,
I watch him. Head down,
hands deep in pockets,
he drags his feet,
twirls on one foot
every twenty steps,
then bends and pulls up
his socks. He turns
the corner. I run down
the block, duck behind
a black Cadillac.
When he reaches the curb,
I sneak closer, crouch
in the hardware store’s
doorway. Larry lifts
his head, sees a red
light. His lips quiver,
right hand karate chops
his open left palm.
I recognize the sign
for stop, whisper
“Good.” Larry looks up
and the light’s green.
His right fist winds
around his clenched left
hand, tells him to walk.
He checks for cars, half
runs across Bergen Street.
Safe, Larry pirouettes
and faces me. He bows
at the waist, straightens
up, yells “Okay Tony”
and laughs out loud.

 

This poem first appeared in Mudfish

 

About Tony Gloeggler: I am a life-long resident of New York City and have managed group homes for the mentally challenged for over 35 years. My work has appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, Rattle, The Examined Life Journal, Raleigh Review, New Ohio Review, Stirring and The NY Times. My full length books include One Wish Left (Pavement Saw Press 2002) and Until The Last Light Leaves (NYQ Books 2015) which focused on my job and the autistic son of a former girlfriend. My next book, What Kind Of Man, will be published by NYQ Books in 2019.

 

Image Credit: photo by Renee Bieretz, from The Library of Congress