Tony Gloeggler

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Just Once

Before I shut off all
the lights and lie down
next to the already
sleeping Helen, I walk
into Jesse’s room, watch
him sleep and breathe.
Such a beautiful boy,
arms and legs splayed
all over the place, covers
a tangled mess. Sometimes,
I’m tempted to bend,
kiss his cheek or forehead
and then I remember
last week, up all night,
every night, as he paced
from bedroom to kitchen
and howled for chicken
fingers, a ride to a far
away gas station to watch
his favorite blue drink
drop down a vending
machine so he could
take one sip and pour
the rest out the car window
So, I whisper hopeful
words, almost a prayer,
that he’ll sleep till morning.

I take my clothes off, pull
back the comforter,
curl close to Helen. Too
tired to sleep, I try
not to think about the last
time I worked on a poem,
the last time we made love.
I’m tired of racing home
from work to replace
the baby sitter, keep
Jesse busy and happy,
battling to cure his autism
with every breath. Please
don’t let the phone ring.
I don’t want to hear Helen
saying she’ll be home
late again from work
helping the homeless
instead of me, resentful
she has to bring dinner
home in a bag, last night’s
dishes still in the dirty
sink. I don’t want to talk
about Jesse’s day
or hear any complaints
about her job, his school,
Brooklyn, or terrorists
building bigger bombs,
how we should move
to Vermont. Not one
word of how little
I’m doing to help her.
Just once, I want to sit
at the table, eat steak,
a baked potato. Then
I want to watch the Yankees
beat the Diamondbacks
while she cleans the kitchen,
sings Jesse to sleep, drops
her head in my lap as I pull
back her hair in my fist
and she gives me
the best blow job
in World Series history.

Originally published in Barbaric Yawp and in the book Until the Last Light Leaves.


I tell you to let it ring.
You give my lips a quick
kiss, lean over and pick
up the phone. You say
Hello, press your palm
over the mouthpiece, whisper,
It’s my mother. You move
to the edge of the bed, turn
away and sit up, answer,
No, no.
doing this to me now.
I slide across the bed,
kiss soft shoulders, glide
my lips down your spine, fit
my tongue in the crack
of your ass. You look back,
your eyes ask me to please
stop. I shake my head
sideways, smile. Not
a chance. I crawl out
of bed, kneel in front
of you. My lips, tongue
stroke thighs, kiss and lick
you open, move inside you,
try to make you come.
Come, while your mother
swears on the bodies
of her two brothers
gassed at Dachau
that I will slowly
swallow your soul.

Originally published in New York Quarterly and in the book One Wish Left.


Tony Gloeggler is a native of NYC and manages group homes for the developmentally disabled in Brooklyn. His books include two full length collections One Wish Left (Pavement Saw Press, 2000) which went into a second edition and The Last Lie (NYQ Books 2010). Until the Last Light Leaves was published in 2016 by NYQ Books.