Thursday, November 27, 2014

John Grochalski- Three Poems

no snowcap

love you like a blackmail
one of the girls at the bus stop sings to the other

twelve years old and they’re both
in the tight pink pants that say juicy on the ass

i don’t know if you can call them lycra or spandex
…spanx, is what i think i’ve heard them called

but the patriarchy is alive and well this morning

the two girls are in each other’s face
fists to their lips like microphones

love you like a blackmail, baby
love you like a blackmail

girls looking decades older than the boys
who will one day decide what their daughters will wear

boys chasing girls chasing boys
standing right beside them singing pink and juicy

love you like a blackmail

boys pounding on video screens
and trying to push each other in the street

crafting the continued history of violence
in this fashion parade

i wonder what these girls
will be wearing in four years
at the ripe, old, overly sexualized age of sixteen

just what the mass marketing machine
will come up with next

like the two girls i just passed
twenty-two degrees this morning
with another winter of our discontent
breathing down our necks

sixteen year olds in thin jackets unzipped
with high-school PE t-shirts cut to mid-drift
like glorified bras

bearing, red, chapped stomachs

the one girl telling the other
that brandon is so cute
she might rape him tonight

rape like love
love you like a blackmail, baby

on a friday night
in digital camera supervised america

without a pair of gloves
and no snowcap on their heads.

the mentor

a wise man once told me
that every step in this life is a step forward

and through the pleasure
and the pain of this existence

the failed jobs and failed relationships
the failed cities and broken cars

all this sickness and death

i’ve held on to that
in some form or another

today i’m thinking it’s my turn
to be the wise man

to be the mentor

to the nineteen year old girl
who wants to discuss her future

a lost kid in college
who may be in over her head
or who might just need to blow off some steam

so we sit there face to face
her talking about the confusion of classes

me squatted like buddha
like the gray and grizzled sage i think i am

remembering nineteen

just waiting on the point in the conversation
where she finally makes her decision

finally sees the enlightened path that her life must take
with my guidance, of course

so that i can say
every step in this life is a step forward, kid

pat her on the shoulder and walk away
feeling good about myself for a change

because as you get older
i’ve learned that it gets harder to feel good about yourself

as the mistakes mount and the failures collect
like debt or old baseball cards in the closet

but we never get to that glorious conclusion

instead of feeling good about anything
the girl starts crying a slow, soundless wretched burn
that turns her eyes red and milky

she makes no sound
as she wipes and tries to look away from me

her plastic guru
her dim leading light

twenty-one years older than her
and none the wiser than whatever burden she’s got

the things she can’t discuss anymore

with someone burning down the road
in the same jack kerouac flannels
that he was baptized in before she was born

just another sagging old man
waiting until she’s finished crying
so that he can lean in and ask her

if she’s all right.

shadows of brooklyn
            --after richard hugo

it’s true here

that the shadows from clouds
don’t take the shape of boats
sailing in all of this concrete

and when the sky rolls away
white and blue in between the gray and mist
it’s most likely filled with soot and dirt

carcinogenics heading off toward the ocean

but there are shadows of buildings
that can kill the light for blocks on end

and in mornings, cold and warm
i walk them to escape the sun

my own moody blue-black oasis
where i can sink into the urban gloom
for as long as i want to

watching the shadows of cars
locked in morning gridlock duels
make the shadows of stalling snakes

their horns honking frustration
at all of this black

dodging dog-shit temples
cathedrals of up-ended garbage cans

the shadows of people like ants
trying to cross the street

waiting for buses in dull lines
checking cellphones and watches

a facsimile of the shadows
of the people who came before them.

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