John Grochalski: “collection days”

collection days

it seems as archaic
as kids carrying newspapers now

but they used to give us
a thick ring full of cardboard paper
cut into perforated tabs

they acted as receipts 
when people paid you for their papers

once a week
in summer or after school

i had to walk my paper route
with the ring of cardboard tabs
knocking on people’s doors
to get the post-gazette’s money

in winter
i saw the dark on both ends of the day

i was the great interrupter of dinners
sexy time after long days at work
of infants falling asleep after hours of struggle

the great ruiner of
children’s birthdays and underage parties

i stood at closed doors
listening to hushed voices 
hoping that i’d just go away

while the same dogs that barked at me in the morning
got a second chance to go at me in the evening

the people who condescended 
to open their doors
looked at me as if they didn’t understand

like their newspaper just arrived 
by some voodoo or magic

and not by some fat kid
trudging along in the rain or snow
or the humid damp of summer heat

i delivered to rich people with big houses
but no one ever had the money to pay me

next week, they’d say
and i’d walk away from their homes
my labor given away free for another week

left to explain to my angry dispatcher
why i didn’t have his cash some saturday

promising him
i’d have his money come next monday

like i was some errant tenant
or a goddamned junky begging to a dealer

a feeble man with empty pockets
and a huge-ass gambling debt

who’d let his life fall off the rails
yet again.

About the Author: John Grochalski is the author of the poetry collections, The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser After You Punch Out (Six Gallery Press 2008), Glass City (Low Ghost Press, 2010), In the Year of Everything Dying (Camel Saloon, 2012), Starting with the Last Name Grochalski (Coleridge Street Books, 2014), The Philosopher’s Ship (Alien Buddha Press, 2018), and Eating a Cheeseburger During End Times (Kung Fu Treachery, 2021). He is also the author of the novels, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press 2013), Wine Clerk (Six Gallery Press 2016), and P-Town: Forever (Alien Buddha Press, 2021). Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. You can read his baseball card ramblings at his Junk Wax Jay blog https://junkwaxjay.blogspot.com/

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Image Credit: Harris& Ewing “Newspapers Coming Off Press” (1936) Public domain photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress

John Grochalski: “ridiculous male bravado”

 

 

ridiculous male bravado

boys
used to have these standoffs
in high school

we’d go to some undisclosed location
like a bus stop or the park

the combatants would stand face to face
glare and try to look hard

maybe one pushed the other
and the other pushed back

to tell the truth they looked scared
like they didn’t want to hurt anyone or get hurt

but were caught up in this ridiculous male bravado

kill or be killed in america

there were never any girls there
they were off being told a different kind of lie

after about fifteen minutes of this sideshow
all the hoopla began to die down

the fighters couldn’t remember
what they were mad about anyway

and one by one
we walked away from the stalled melee

slinking back into our own
little internal dramas

pacifists anew.

 

 

 

About the Author: John Grochalski is the author of the poetry collections, The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser After You Punch Out (Six Gallery Press 2008), Glass City (Low Ghost Press, 2010), In The Year of Everything Dying (Camel Saloon, 2012), Starting with the Last Name Grochalski (Coleridge Street Books, 2014), and The Philosopher’s Ship (Alien Buddha Press, 2018). He is also the author of the novels, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press 2013), and Wine Clerk (Six Gallery Press 2016).  Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, in the part that voted for Trump, so may God have mercy on his soul.

 

More By John Grochalski:

grape drink and snuff

to abby wherever you are

 

Image Credit: Wilhelm Trübner Scuffling Boys” (1872) Public Domain

John Grochalski: “grape drink and snuff”

 

 

grape drink and snuff

once as a kid

i made jackson pollock 
splatters of purple chunks
on the hot pavement

i made getting sick an art

walking home in a daze
under the blistering sun

throwing up
throwing up

the latch key kid of the avant garde 

half a dozen cartons of grape juice
and a bottom lip full of mint-flavored snuff

for lunch

as the neighbor lady asked me if i was all right

and i wanted to tell her
that those free summer camp kids
who thought they had my fat boy number

those prince and princesses
of this tin-shack suburb

could never tell me that i wasn’t solid
that i didn’t live up to my potential

that i was art
as royal as they came

but instead
i spewed up my genius
in violet hues

all over the concrete again.

 

About the Author: John Grochalski is the author of the poetry collections, The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser After You Punch Out (Six Gallery Press 2008), Glass City (Low Ghost Press, 2010), In The Year of Everything Dying (Camel Saloon, 2012), Starting with the Last Name Grochalski (Coleridge Street Books, 2014), and The Philosopher’s Ship (Alien Buddha Press, 2018). He is also the author of the novels, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press 2013), and Wine Clerk (Six Gallery Press 2016).  Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, in the part that voted for Trump, so may God have mercy on his soul.

 

More by John Grochalski:

“to abby wherever you are”

 

Image Credit: “Childs’ rare flowers, vegetables, & fruits” (1902) Public Domain

“to abby wherever you are” by John Grochalski

 

 

to abby wherever you are

i watch the little girl
sitting across from me

she is four years old
and is as impatient
with this stalling subway train as i am

she kicks her legs
and squirms in her seat
and complains to her mother
in impatient little kid whines

mama’s reaction is a mantra of shushes
and the impatient bark of her name, abby

mom has a fussy infant to attend to as well

i wish that i could act out like abby
kick my legs and squirm in my seat

impatiently whine to my wife
about infrastructure and the decline
of american ingenuity

but i’d end up in divorce court

i wish i could tell abby
that in thirty minutes
we will all reach the end
of this horrible saga together

that i will gallantly carry
her brother’s stroller up two flights of steep steps
as her mother offers many thank yous

and abby leads us up and up
toward the light of the quickly moving city

where the big tall buildings
aren’t always big tall lies

and a taste of the american dream
is as delicious as an ice cream cone.

 

About the Author: John Grochalski is the author of the poetry collections, The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser After You Punch Out (Six Gallery Press 2008), Glass City (Low Ghost Press, 2010), In The Year of Everything Dying (Camel Saloon, 2012), Starting with the Last Name Grochalski (Coleridge Street Books, 2014), and The Philosopher’s Ship (Alien Buddha Press, 2018). He is also the author of the novels, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press 2013), and Wine Clerk (Six Gallery Press 2016).  Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, where the garbage can smell like roses if you wish on it hard enough.

 

Image Credit: “116TH STREET/COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY STATION. PLATFORM AND STAIRS TO MEZZANINE. – Interborough Rapid Transit Subway (Original Line), New York County, NY” The Library of Congress