Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Dying in the Dog Days

Shadows, Rim Rock Ranch
—Poems by John Grochalski, Brooklyn, NY
—Photos by Cynthia Linville, Sacramento, CA

ninety degrees in brooklyn
with writer’s block

on my way
to work
a wasted morning of no words
a sweating
blob of pasty
white privilege flesh
with no discernable talent
dying in the dog days
like a hard turd
and stuck up
a rank and festering
hemorrhoid ass
oh how
this city stinks
come july
my balls itching
my soul floundering
and ready
to burst purple
i watch
a thin
stray tabby cat
licking open
garbage bags
spilling rice
and rancid meat
onto the wet pavement
like he’s found
a pot of gold
like he’s
the goddamned king
of brooklyn
this hazy
ugly morning
with all the answers kept
locked and away from us slaves
in his wide
and almond

 Pioneertown Skull

not dead yet

all ass packed
in brown shorts
has that cell phone
american sway
sauntering down 4th avenue
in this blistering morning heat
the goddamned
dog days for sure
he must be saying
passing her
at least double her age
triple maybe
as big as a city block
a beached whale
with a cane
knocking on heaven’s door
but that doesn’t stop him
from spinning like a ballerina
to get one last look
after she passes
an ass walk for the ages
his last great summit
of libido
almost sprawled out on the pavement
before he rights himself
wipes the sweat from
his brow
looks nobody in the eye
as he continues on
with nimble
unsure steps
down this rank
and sweltering block.

Joshua Tree, CA


i watch
the cat
seventeen years old
uncombed beast
probably has cancer
of the nose
forgets to eat
shits outside the box
shit stuck in her asshole
i watch her
and think
christ, she has more will power
than most people
loves this life
more than me
as she tries
to stick her fat head
into my vodka glass
swinging at me
like she’d scratch my eyes out
in a heartbeat
after i selfishly
push that old mother

 Grass Valley, CA

i am the great unknown

built this beautiful
marble countertop
for this dickhead in a big home
in the buffalo suburbs
it took two of us to carry the thing
me and len
not the dickhead in the big home
who walked next to us sideways
his arms outspread
like we were carrying his first born
a man without the decency to tell us
that there was a step up
from the driveway to the garage
and when i tripped
landed so hard on my knee
that i heard it pop
but still held on to that motherfucking
marble countertop
that len made
for this dickhead in a huge home
who said
jesus christ, who are you guys hiring these days?
a man who wouldn’t even take
an end of the counter
so that i could grab my knee
and roll around on his garage floor
in immense pain
which is exactly what i did
after len casually set his end down
came over and took mine
i don’t know, jer
man, i just don’t know
while i writhed and writhed
and knew as good as i knew
that i was heading straight to the bar
with the want ads
not the emergency room
and that i most certainly
wasn’t getting a tip
that miserable afternoon.  

 Grass Valley, CA


as if lucifer rose

sometimes getting drunk
in the middle of the day in a bar is all right

but instead i’m in the grocery line
the scent of last night’s vodka sniffing through my nose

stuck behind another cotton-headed abomination

someone’s mother yes
someone’s grandmother

far off into the cold, carnal distance of the past
maybe the erotic love of someone’s life

though i doubt it

she’s standing in the middle of the lane
questioning the cost of every item to the cashier

why does the yogurt cost so much?
why the lemonade?
give me back those apples
i’m going to have to think about them

i can’t even get my groceries
on the little conveyor belt because she won’t move
from her incredulous consumptive perch

this is a small problem, true

there are wars
there is suffering

somewhere a thirteen year old girl
is being forced into the submission
of an arranged marriage

how we have an orange-faced
racist maniac running for president

but this is my problem

and i think about bukowski and the shoelace
how it’ll be the small stuff that gets you in the end
not nuclear war or authoritarianism

or about how i’d still need to buy
toilet paper in the event of national socialism

this woman is my shoelace

checking the expiration on the milk for the third time
complaining about the cost of butter for the second time
leaving the line to go and get a bigger bag of rice
like she left the line to go and get some new apples

this is no bar in the middle of the afternoon
hiding in the dark, getting drunk
as assholes make their way outside in the sun

she is no human being

she’s a beast, standing there examining her receipt
so that the cashier can’t even ring up my shit

as if lucifer rose from hell
this fine summer day
to buy coffee on sale and some rotisserie chicken

or to screw with a guy like me
hungover and in need of seltzer
so he can go home and hit the bottle

make his world’s suffering end.


John Grochalski’s poetry has appeared in several online and print publications, including Red Fez, Rusty Truck, Outsider Writers Collective, Underground Voices, The Lilliput Review, The Main Street Rag, Zygote In My Coffee, The Camel Saloon, and Bartleby Snopes.  He is the author three books of poetry: The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser After You Punch (Six Gallery Press, 2008), Glass City (Low Ghost Press, 2010), and Starting with the Last Name Grochalski (Coleridge Street Press, 2014), and is also the author of the novels, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press, 2013) and Wine Clerk (Six Gallery Press, 2016).  Welcome to the Kitchen, John, and don’t be a stranger!


Today’s LittleNip:

Be courageous and try to write in a way that scares you a little.

—Holly Gerth


—Medusa (when was the last time you scared yourself with your writing?)—and thanking John Grochalski and Cynthia Linville for today’s spicy breakfast in the Kitchen!

 Celebrate poetry that shakes us out of our ruts, and then 
head up the hill to the Poetry Off-The-Shelf read-around 
today in Placerville, 5-7pm, El Dorado County Library. 
Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column 
at the right) for info about this and other upcoming readings 
in our area—and note that more may be added 
at the last minute.  

And be sure to order your advance copy of 
Sacramento Voices 2016 from Cold River Press—just $15 
rather than the cover price of $39.99—plus get a free book 
from the extensive Cold River Press catalog, and free 
shipping in the continental US. See 
for a complete list of the poets who are included in this 
anthology edited by Phillip Larrea (164 pp, 
soft cover, perfect-bound).

 Cover, Sacramento Voices 2016
from Cold River Press

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then click on the X in the top right corner to come back
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