John Grochalski

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good friday

i used to drink in a bar Artwork by Gene McCormick
that was open at 9 a.m. year round

you’d find men in there
well, mostly men
sucking up the suds on thanksgiving and christmas

they looked happier than anyone i’d ever seen
shoving hunks of dry turkey or greasy christmas ham
down their throats with their sullen families

it was a good place
if you could tolerate some bullshit
and the arbitrary conversation here and there

like i said, the place was never closed

except good friday
the bar was closed from twelve to three

the bartender kicked the drunks out
so they could go and cleanse themselves in church
mumbling along to the passion of the christ
with the other hoodwinked

but around two-thirty
they’d all start to congregate

third shifters and unemployment boys
drunk dads and retired old farts

mona, who fucked everyone in the bar
but her boyfriend, benny

a convention of the neighborhood’s saints
shaking in their faded beer buzz

waiting in the gray
for the miller light sign to come back on
red and illuminated

and the wooden door to click open
like the pearly gates of heaven.


ass walk

it was the first
beautiful day in months
and i was walking down 5th avenue
with brahms on my magic music machine
behind this woman with an amazing ass
thinking, well, i love my wife
and the spring and brahms
and women with wonderful backsides
she was moving too quickly for me to pass her
she was moving too slowly for me to fall back
so i had no choice but to walk in the spring sun
letting brooklyn and brahms
and her wonderful rear end
bathe me in the celestial light of a thursday morning

it didn’t even matter that i had to go to work

but coming in the other direction
was some shit with his pants down to his ankles
his hat on backwards and big headphones
attached to his thick skull
he was such a dull, common pound of flesh
manufactured in sweating bedrooms by the dozen
i could see him staring at the woman in front of me
he had that salivating look of entitlement on his face
when the three of us clashed
he leaned in and said something that made the woman flinch
but she kept going
when he passed her he turned and checked her out from behind
shouting, damn! over my brahms and the sound of car horns

we made eye contact and he pointed at the woman’s ass
he said, yo do you see that shit?
like she was some great catch in centerfield
or a super bowl touchdown

we brothers in arms

when he was gone i kept going for a couple of blocks
letting the woman get further and further ahead
until i grew sick of myself and the world anew
and turned down another, dirty city street.


John Grochalski is a published writer whose poetry and prose have 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 has two books of poetry, The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser After You Punch (Six Gallery Press) and Glass City (Low Ghost Press), and a novel, The Librarian, forthcoming. His chapbook, In the Year of Everything Dying, can be viewed via Camel Saloon’s Books on Blogs series (