Poetry No. 5 – John Grochalski

the paperboy, killing time, peanut butter
By John Grochalski

the paperboy

twelve years old
my old man had me out
before five in the morning
toting stacks and bundles
of all of the hell the world had to offer
he’d sit in the car
listening to news radio
while i walked dark streets
slinging papers on pavement
or hard against the doors of those customers
who were never around
when i came to collect
scared of the dark and the rustling trees
dogs barking or a random deer
trotting across a suburban lawn
scared of everything five in the morning had to offer me
passing the homes of kids i went to school with
dark mansions that looked like
they’d been closed-up for years
dodging ice in the winter
dodging sprinklers in the summer
in the mix of every season that bloomed
occasionally a random person would come
walking down a block
i’d hide where i could
watching as they moved off into the distance
wondering why in the hell
they were up so early like me
to make the almighty dollar?
but i always imagined something more sinister in mind
as i moved from house to house like a careful creep
suddenly aware of all of that slumbering vulnerability
behind those doors and windows
the turn of a knob
the touch of a dusty screen
at times emboldened by my power
as my old man drove the car blocks ahead
reliving the job of his youth through me
the trail of his gray cigarette smoke
more pronounced as the red sun began to come up
and the lights flickered on
in all of the homes
i’d sacrificed sleep
to inform.


killing time

the thought
of losing all of these hours to jobs
valuable moments that’ll never come back
all those good years wasted
sitting in offices making money for someone else
hauling junk in warehouses
dying on retail and restaurant floors
is the true horror show of human existence
the greatest influence on our cruelty
it is a daily war
to not want to blow the brains out
to not strangle our neighbor or the stranger on the train
no wonder people
make their jobs their lives
what choice do they have but to submit?
at the very least get medicated and drift
we the people
so full of swagger and self-immolation
while sitting in morning traffic
bound to paper systems
that are seemingly too powerful to rise against
we the people who should be rioting in the streets
tearing up constitutions and burning down the very cities we tread
having golden copulations of kindness, peace and understanding
on the white-hot bones of our profligate leaders
we, the fat, waddling balls of prescription drugs
with insomnia or the shits
so hungry for understanding and liberation
who hide in video game dreamlands and run from killer cops
who accept hatred and division as compensation
who accept a pittance for our lives
because we simply don’t know what else to do
scared from the promise of birth
beautiful dullards killing time
until we get sick and die
or live long enough to retire from this madness
into the hell of old age and senility
whatever comes first.


peanut butter

i was the fattest
of the fat kids
i jiggled my sadness
down the block
and slathered peanut butter
on thick slices of bread
at my grandmother’s house
i had no clue
how much the loneliness
was setting in
i had no clue
until the first time my head
was turned by a girl
but i had that knife
and the bread
and my god the peanut butter
spread like thick tan waves
shoved into my fat mouth
the fattest of fat mouths
the loneliest mouth
that i knew
choking and spinning
around my grandmother’s kitchen
face red
and cheeks puffed out
like dizzy gillespie
as grandma screamed
and tried smacking my back
over the sink
where the cold water
was running
like life
for me
for me
for fat little old me.


John Grochalski is the author of 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 novel, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press 2013). Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, in the section that doesn’t have the bike sharing program.

by: Gessy Alvarez

2 thoughts on “Poetry No. 5 – John Grochalski

  1. Wrenching poems. I’ve had some of those jobs! I’ve wanted to scream and run from some of those jobs. And, I’ve been scared. And, I’m fat. Great poems.

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