John Grochalski is the author of the poetry collections, The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser After You Punch Out (Six Gallery Press 2008), Glass City (Low Ghost Press, 2010), In The Year of Everything Dying (Camel Saloon, 2012), Starting with the Last Name Grochalski (Coleridge Street Books, 2014), and The Philosopher’s Ship (Alien Buddha Press, 2018). He is also the author of the novels, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press 2013), and Wine Clerk (Six Gallery Press 2016). Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, where the garbage can smell like roses if you wish on it hard enough.


you drink a glass of wine

because the vodka is spent
but the night is still young
because there is music
and the world outside is dark
and behind glass
and cannot touch you anymore
and because the wolves of the city
will be kept at bay
for at least a few hours
horrible people
who’ve never learned to be human
or maybe they are too human
and that’s what makes them
so horrible and detestable
and the music is music that
you’ve loved since childhood
it is soothing like childhood wasn’t
and it went with the vodka
and it goes with the wine
it will comfort you because
nothing and no one
can comfort you anymore
at this age you’ve reached
except the wine and the music
and the pale thought of death.


six fifty-eight in the morning

donizetti is on the radio
and the dog across the street
will not quit barking at shadows
while i sit here trying to write
a poem about being paranoid
only i’m too paranoid to get it down
so i get up and curse the mutt
as we are ancient combatants
in trying to have our say
and when i sit back down
the coffee is cold and useless
the donizetti has become the news
and a next hour has blossomed
into something that will probably
slip through my fingertips too.


little wars everywhere

the grocery store
laughs at our hunger and desires
so we decide to walk home
to where vodka will make it right
and there he is
when we get there
parked in front of our apartment
cleaning and vacuuming
his big american car
blasting the notorious b.i.g.
my wife and i sigh
it is too hot
and we are too tired
and too old
to wage this kind of war
another endless front
of another endless battle
of urban warfare
i’m tired of seeing these people as villains
of trying to correct their behavior with threats and words
i do not appreciate the audacity
but perhaps he is just a person
trying to get through his day
as i am trying to get through mine
we walk by him
with nary a complaint
go inside the apartment
to the faint bass thumping the walls
pour two doubles
over ice
crank the a/c to top volume
crank the rock and roll too
until he almost disappears
as the neighbor upstairs
begins pacing around her place
another hapless victim
to the aural incivility
to little wars being started everywhere
to the all-american credo
every man