Tony Gloeggler

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Yes, that summer. 1979. The one
before we moved in together. 
You rented a one bedroom
in Forest Hills and I played
full court all day, ate at my mom’s
then biked to your place. Suspended
between growing up and the kid
I wanted to remain, I sometimes
stayed the night. The morning songs
of the Hebrew camp two yards away
woke us and I hurried, tried
to come one more time before
your alarm clock sounded. I’d watch
you dress for work, a counselor
for a woman’s health clinic
run by a crazy lady who preached
the politics you believed in. Sometimes,
you’d invite your friends, your sisters,
over for dinner and we’d sit around
the table. To delay cleaning up,
I’d half listen to the conversation
and try to find a slot to fit
a word or two in. Maybe music.
Or maybe I’d play poet, mention
a poem I was working on, one
I wasn’t sure was ready for your eyes,
your fingers to lift from my notebook,
type onto a blank page and make it
official. Sometimes, you’d drive me
home. We’d sit at the curb until the sun
came up and my father stepped out
of the door on his way to a job
he hated as we held our breath,
held in our smiles and he pretended
not to want to kill us. Yes, before
I started working a job I’d love.
Before I learned how little
I knew about loving someone.
Before I knew I should do anything
to somehow hold you in my life.

First published in Mudfish

Kinds of Blue

Outside your window
it’s all day rain, you drop
the needle on vinyl and each
breath of Miles’ horn colors
your soul all blue as you sit
at your desk and read about
Robin Williams killing himself
all over the internet: his gifts
and talents, how much
he meant to the world,
his warmth and generosity,
that photo he posted
on his daughter’s 25th birthday,
the sadness and anger people
feel for his loss and you’re surprised
how much it touches you. Yes,
you will still pause any time
you click through countless
cable stations and stumble
upon one of the few movies
of his you loved. You will miss
every fifteen minute, manic,
machine gun fire monologue
filled with his assorted
accents and scattered
associations as he plugs
his latest mediocre movie
to some stunned talk show
host who could only dream
of being as quick and funny.

But mostly, you thought
of your friend in Virginia,
how nearly three weeks
have passed since you heard
from him. Too often, his silence
means that he’s too busy
watching over and taking care
of his daughter, that dealing
with the hopelessness of depression
is overwhelming her again
and the fear she will never
feel nearly normal, halfway
happy to be alive, is burrowing
into her every sensation
and he doesn’t know
if he can take much more.

You think of your recent
open heart surgery, the slow
recovery that feels like stagnation,
your impending kidney transplant,
the struggle to climb a flight
of subway stairs, the rotting
tinny taste embedded in dark
caverns of your throat,
the deep belches and retches
as you swallow your pills
and you feel sure your balls
are gonna shoot out of your mouth,
roll across the floor and you’ll
try to bend down, pick them up
and carefully place them back
in their sack. But no, even if
your best days are far behind,
that every little thing you do
may always be a graceless,
tedious chore and you can barely
imagine anyone holding you
through a winter’s night, not once
have you wanted to fall asleep
and never wake up. You worry
about the next time you talk
to your friend, wonder what
you could ever say, knowing
he will never take one easy
breath, sleep restfully again.

First published in Nerve Cowboy


Tony Gloeggler is a life-long resident of New York City and have managed group homes for the mentally challenged for over 35 years. His work has appeared in Rattle, Chiron Review, New Ohio Review, Mudfish, Spillway and Main Street Rag. His full length books include One Wish Left (Pavement Saw Press 2002), Until The Last Light Leaves (NYQ Books 2015), What Kind Of Man (NYQ Book Spring 2020).