John Grochalski

five poems

punched window

someone breaks
into this guy’s car
on the block,
and he stops me
in the cold morning
to tell me about it.
twenty years he’s
been living on this street,
and nothing like this has
ever happened.

we look his car over,
a fancy burgundy colored
sports utility vehicle
with a ski rack, new tires,
and a brand new hole
punched into his driver’s side
with beads of bluish glass
on the seat
and on the pavement.

can you believe this?
he asks me.
i can.
i’ve seen worse.
i used to live on a block
in pittsburgh
near a busway
that divided the poor side
from the rich,
and every spring
like clockwork
cars of the destitute
and hungry came by
and broke into nearly every
car on the block.

mornings after,
the street looked
like a reflecting pool,
a translucent mosaic.
surprisingly my car never
got tagged,
or maybe not so surprising
because my wife and i drove
the oldest, ugliest car
on the block.
it looked like it didn’t
belong on that street.
maybe we didn’t belong
on that street.

can you believe this?
my car victim
asks me again.
it’s twenty degrees,
i’m running late for work,
my memory is in over-drive,
last night’s beer gave me the shits,
and my stomach is doing cartwheels
what the fuck does he
want me to say?

of course
i believe it.
it’s the city.
it’s america.
it’s all a goddamned crapshoot.
it makes sense.
the asshole should just
be happy
that it took twenty years
for it to happen
to him.
i know i’m counting
my blessings,
few as they are,
because spring is coming,
and a lot of people
are starving around here.


not fitting in
is never a bad thing.
no one expects much
of you
or wants any of
your time.

when i was
a child
i always thought
there was something
with me
because i was often

but now,
as an adult
i see
that if i never
had anything
i had my solitude,

not a curse
but instead
a blessing
never fully realized
too late.

autumn again

i am up
the radio announcer
tells me it will be beautiful
i take his word for it
the old stadium has had
its last hurrah
the cats are hungry
i hope i still don’t
have the shits
the editor wants me
to email the publisher
about my messed up cover
the government does not
want to bail me out
but the bill collectors
want their money
i piss
i feed the cats
i put on a pot of tea
and look outside the window
at two old men
leaving for work
and talking under
the streetlights that keep me up
it is five in the morning
and i am glad
for once
that i am not somebody else
then the tea is done
i come in here and turn
on the machine
i wait
i have a good pull on the tea
and the radio announcer
tells me that this morning
is the beginning of autumn
someone sends me a picture
of myself on a web site
i stare it and don’t recognize a thing.
then i sit down
and begin to get the day
over with.

my soul is singed and the day is a cheap investment that never reaps any returns

we wonder if the lead singers
in our favorite unsigned band
are bankers in their spare time
or if the drummer is stuck all day
in the murder of a cubicle.
they are probably all unemployed
i say
or they are hedge fund babies.
it’s the only way they could make
the kind of upbeat music that they do.
no job or no worries.
if it were me, i’d probably write a dirge
or a blues.
i’d write a symphony with no
middle or end
or i’d skip the music and move
to florida
to drink daiquiris
and pretend that i was hemingway
in key west bars.
she laughs at this and we walk on,
watching the homeless pick through garbage
and left over beer bottles
while fools wait at green lights
or drink coffee at bus stops
and the plastic owl hanging in the
junkyard by the overpass
finally turns its head to the left
because it can’t bear to watch the next
piss on itself and call a truce
with the day
before it really gets going on this block.
then we talk about
and something else happens

trick with ice

she did this trick with ice.
she filled up a cup with chipped
ice, and then laid on the bed
and had me push the slivers
in her with my tongue, while
i ate her out.
it wasn’t really a trick.
i suppose the “trick” was
the ice made her orgasm right away.
if there was a trick involved,
the trick was certainly mine.
after all, i did all the work.
but i didn’t really enjoy her
little dalliance with ice.
most of the time it numbed
my tongue
and when it didn’t the sensation
was lackluster.
her pussy was cold and salty
when the one cunt i knew before
had been warm and thick.
my cock didn’t feel right when it
was inside her either.
i couldn’t come no matter
how hard i pumped.
without the ice, i could shoot
jism like a hose.
but with it, i was frigid and limp.
maybe i was just inexperienced.
still, one day i asked her to stop
with the ice.
i said, “couldn’t we fuck like regular people?”
she got mad and slammed the ice cup
on my desk.
some of the chips spilled on my newest poems.
she said, “that’s how regular people fuck.”
and then she dressed quickly,
not embarrassedly but overt.
she was letting me know what i’d be missing.
she left the bedroom and pounded
down the steps.
i heard her talk to my roommate
before she slammed the front door.
from my room, i could hear her car door open,
the weak rev of the four-cylinder engine,
and the screech of tires as the car
tore up forbes avenue.
then i was alone.
it was just me and the cup of ice.
it was a hot day.
late june.
so i sat on the bed and ate each sliver,
even the ones soaking my writing,
as if i were a starving man.

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