John Grolchalski

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Artwork by Gene McCormick


the arab kids are sitting in a pack
they are laughing and throwing trash around

they all have bad, overly gelled haircuts
and wear sunglasses indoors

have their ballcaps cocked sideways
and jeans that go down almost below their asses

they are no worse than any other kids in here
in fact, they are pretty run of the mill

but she singles them out and says to me
this might be racist
but you can just tell that they hate america
and that they are going to grow up to become terrorists

you get all of that from them throwing paper? i say

we have homegrown ones now, she continues
it’s on the news every night
some kid from wisconsin or somewhere
trying to blow up the federal reserve or something

i probably hate america more than they do, i say

don’t say that, she says
as we watch the arab kids laugh and share their headphones
you never know who’s listening

no one is ever really listening in this country, i say
that’s part of the problem

these kids are different, she says
it’s in their eyes

they look like regular assholes, i tell her

they’re homegrown, she says
as two of the arab kids get up
and start shoving each other playfully

look at them, she says
they’ve been raised to assimilate
to act just like the other kids
and then one day they get the call and …..

for christ’s sake, i say
that’s what you really believe?

take a good look at them

so i do
but i still don’t see it

i just see asshole teenagers
doing the stupid things that they always do

one day you’ll see one of those kids on the news
he’ll have tried to blow up a bank or a bridge or something

maybe he’ll be on a variety show, i say,
when one kid starts dancing to the music

but she frowns because now is not the time for jokes
and protecting this great nation is serious business

it’s not the same here, she says
america is different than when i was a kid
i don’t feel safe anywhere in this country now

it’s been the same horrifying mess
for over two-hundred years, i tell her

but she shakes her head
glares at the arab kids as they make their way outside

mark my words, she says
one day they’re all going to strike

and it’ll be those homegrown ones
who will get us in the end.


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 (