Sunday, June 1, 2014


i have bruises on my arms, she says

what can i say? i tell her, i’m a passionate man

i have them on my wrists and ankles too

have you checked your inner thighs?

she goes into the bathroom
jesus christ, she says, a moment later
what in the hell were we doing?

what comes naturally, i say
there’s one on your ass as well

wow, she says through the door

people are going to think i beat you, i say

it looks like you did, she says
coming out of the bathroom

but i’m a lover not a fighter

you have some on your arms as well, she says

you brute, i say

she blushes

how about i put a hickey on your neck
to clarify, i tell her

don’t you dare, she says

how about one on your ass?


then she goes back into the bathroom
to look her body over again

and i wonder if she’ll find the small bruise
that’s on her left breast. 

just stop

to the 24/7 media cycle
the one who keeps reporting
on each and every mass shooting in america

we the people have a message for you

just stop

stop reporting on them
stop mentioning them

stop taking a moment of silence
during your broadcasts
to show us the faces of the victims in happier times

and stop showing up with your cameras
at each and every ubiquitous candlelight vigil
to film all of the tears and wasted wax

just stop already
because we concerned citizens have had enough

we’re tired of these special news reports
interrupting another politically biased crossfire talk show
on the falsity of climate change
interrupting our sports and market reports

we’re tired of sitting through
five dead and thirteen wounded on a college campus
or twelve dead in a movie theater
or a dozen kids blown away in connecticut

when we just want video of our favorite celebrity couple
fighting in an elevator

or another exclusive on those cute pop stars
getting married at the vatican

just stop

stop bringing us down
with your statistics on how violent america is

can’t you see that we don’t care?
i mean if we did
don’t you think we vote out the politicians
getting kickbacks from the NRA?

the ones who come on tv and tell us
that we need more guns not less?

we’re not idiots, you know?
we do rank thirty-first in the world in math
twenty-fourth in science and twenty-first in reading

so take that you media oligarchs!

just stop okay?

can’t you play something nice during your broadcasts?
a human interest story or more health and cooking tips?
a little piece on a dog and cat living together in harmony?

we like news stories like that

not stories about ten people gunned down in a mall
or seven soldiers murdered (again) on a base in texas
or even some junior high girl who hung herself
after being gang-raped at a weekend party

who wants to hear about that stuff
after working another eight hours?

if you want to report about all of that sad-sack stuff
why not give us the lowdown
on which of our favorite television characters
will be dying this season

instead of pre-empting the damned show
over another employee who lost it in the office
killed himself and took four others with him

so please just stop

for all of us
do it for america

get back with the program guys

come on and get happy in this land of the free
home of the brave

otherwise we’ll stop tuning in

and those advertising dollars that you crave so much
well, they’ll be going somewhere else
along with millions of viewers

because we know you already know
there ain’t nothing more powerful in america
than the almighty dollar

or when a ton of us get together
to support a common cause

like that time we stopped that sitcom from being cancelled

and that time we stopped that one kid
from beating that other kid

on one of those awesome talent shows.

fleet week

the three of them
were sitting at the end of the bar
in their starched white uniforms

like returning heroes
like princes of new york

christ, they all looked like sunburnt popeyes

drunk and liberated from their duty
waiting to go back aboard their ship
to shower with each other again

we were drinking nearby
drunk and liberated from our jobs
waiting to back to our apartment
to shower with each other again

when one of the little soldier boys asked me
is that you’re wife?

well, not yet, i said
which i thought was good enough conversation

but the jerky little g.i. joe
kept staring at me

kept staring at my woman
like he needed to get something out

the other two in their starched whites
just kept looking around
waiting for another drunk patriot to buy them
a congratulatory drink

or for someone to pat them on the back
and say, hell of a job, soldier

when he said to me, they must be fun

what do you mean? i asked

well, he started laughing
then he put his hands toward his breasts
like he was holding two balloons

i’m not too quick
especially when i’m drinking

but i think i understood what he was talking about

you know what i mean? he said
you know?  you know?

finally i leaned over and said to the other two swabs
you better watch him in here
this is a communist bar

when they saw what he was doing
they tried putting his hands down
but then he fell off of his stool anyway

another brave soldier gone down

we’re sorry, one of the sailors said to me
but i wasn’t buying it

we’d been watching clowns like these
harass women all week in the city

like conquering titans
like golden gods

so i finished my beer
then my fiancé and i got up to leave

i felt drunk and liberated
by never becoming just another
misogynistic, volunteer asshole with a gun

it’s all right, i told them
maybe we’ll all get lucky in the end

and he’ll get his balls shot off
when you boys sail back to iraq


blomfield always comes in
when there’s five minutes left in the day

when i think i’m just about done
with the pain and the agony
of public servitude

there comes blomfield right through my doors

he’s always dressed the same
no matter the weather

black skull cap
diarrhea green army field jacket
baggy jeans that look like he crapped himself

sparkling white sneakers

yes, i’ve examined blomfield from head to toe
because some hatreds must be
engrained in the memory to truly blossom

he always wants something from me
a newspaper that’s a week old
a phone number to be looked up
keys to use the bathroom until the very last minute
to peruse the magazine racks
or just to walk around the building for the final five

i used to think they were up to something
that the big wigs sent blomfield down here
like some sort of secret shopper

now i just think he’s deranged

the rest of my co-workers are scared of him
it’s understandable when blomfield is wearing
his heavy army jacket in eighty-degree heat

we’ve been trained in america
to hate what we don’t know
what he can’t understand

but i don’t hate blomfield for his coat
or his skull cap or his jeans or his sneakers

for the fact that he never seems to labor or sweat

i hate him simply because he’s the last impediment
in the way of me getting back to my life

he’s the train or bus that i’ll miss
he’s the drink that i’ll have five minutes later or the couch
he’s the meal that i’ll burn thinking about how bad i hate him
the restless sleep that i’ll have


standing there reading fliers
for kid’s magic shows and free math tutoring
at one minute til the hour

checking his watch until the very last second
that he knows we’re open

before he exits the doors
to stand outside looking both ways

scanning the street for a block party
or a community board meeting

wondering whom in the hell to torture

some alien force

i’m on the bus
when i see them come around the corner
hand in hand

these two immaculate, well-coiffed bores

my wife has made me drink with them
break bread with them on a few occasions

it is always the same dull ritual
monotonous stories about her job
pointless tales about his video gamming

and when he’s not around she bitches about him
and when she’s not around he just looks relieved

and when we get home
i always tell my wife, never again
dear, never the fuck again

but there they are on the corner
looking beautiful and fresh and damned
like mormons going door to door

and it feels as though some alien life force
has taken possession of my faculties
i start pounding on the bus window to get their attention
waving and smiling at them like i’m their oldest friend

when they see me they get excited too
he starts waving and she screams, we’re going to the bar!
like it’s an invitation or something

suddenly i wake up
i’m sweating and i feel sick
but i can’t stop waving

so i mouth, good, go and fuck yourselves too
through a huge smile

as the buses passes and rounds the corner
and they’re finally out of my life again

at least for now.  

John Grochalski

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