Friday, May 22, 2015

John Grochalski- Three Poems

name in lights

the doctor has got his name in lights
behind a desk in a glass structure
in the posh part of park slope, brooklyn

it must be costing him a fortune in lives

it’s not even his own name
it’s his father’s but he’s inheriting it
when he takes over the business

the doctor has got all of his papers spread out on his desk
you can barely see them with all of these lights

he tells my wife
oh, most doctors without their name in lights
will tell you that you don’t need chemo for a cancer like this

but me?
i want to give you the full blast of it

hair loss, pasty skin, mouth sores,
low white cell count, possible heart problems
the future fear of bone marrow cancer and leukemia

all for the sheer joy of staying alive another thirty or forty years
and letting them work you until you’re dead

a lot of doctors won’t do that for you
but i will because i’m pro-chemotherapy

i wonder if the doctor has ever had the poison himself
has he ever taken a drink of anything that tasted like gasoline?

the doctor’s got pictures of his kids on a shelf
a picture of his wife but no wedding ring
just in case a hot cancer skank comes waltzing through the doors

i look at the ceramic doodads on his desk
multi-colored bowls and mugs that say, world’s best dad

he looks at me and smiles through the glare
he says, if it were my wife or if it were my family….

the doctor says his patients are like his family too
that’s why he’s recommending the full-on chemotherapy
all of the poisons he can push through my wife’s system

i try to forget about his name in those big lights
his posh office and his expensive suit

my wife still kind of crying in the seat next to me

as he rises to shake my hand
and tells me that everything will be fine

with a smile as wide and white as those lights
as big and heavy as ahab’s motherfucking whale.

baltimore burns

while i sit
in a hotel room in berlin
drinking vodka and wine
in my underwear
like the prince of germany
the final speck of DNA
bridging the gap
between a country
that enslaved millions
and one that just went ahead
and gassed them.

the people behind us on the sidewalk

the people behind us on the sidewalk
are getting on my fucking nerves

it happens a lot in this city

you’re never alone
there’s always someone behind you day or night

i’ve learned to deal with it
as part of the charm of living here in sodom and gomorrah

but not this morning

these people behind us on the sidewalk
are working my last bit of patience

i’m trying to calm my wife about her MRI
i’m trying to quell my own fears with confidence

normally we’d walk faster
but neither of us want to go where we’re headed

the people behind us on the sidewalk
are making it so hard

talking about their goddamned cell phones
some fucking television show
they spent all day yesterday streaming
in between world cup soccer matches

what luck they must have to have it so fucking easy

i can’t even think with their chatter
and my wife can tell that i’m in a mood

she doesn’t need this from me or from them
she’s got enough to worry about this morning

would it be impolite to turn around
and tell the people behind us on the sidewalk
to maybe shut the fuck up about whether or not
they want mexican or thai for lunch?

finally my wife makes the move
she says, i have something in my shoe

so we stop to let the people behind us on the sidewalk go
but they are in no hurry too

her in her stupid, floppy summer hat
and him in some fucking disney hoodie in the heat

what grown man wears walt disney shit? i ask

we end up overtaking them at the street light
thankfully we go one way and they go the other
off to iced coffee daydreams and red velvet cupcake heaven

the people behind us on the sidewalk
finally out of our lives forever

until we see them again in the waiting room
of the MRI office

where she goes up to the desk to fill out paperwork
as he keeps his eyes planted on her

his look one that i’ve learned to recognize
in my own mirror

that of utter horror and astounding disbelief.

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