John Grochalski

he is (almost) risen


you can hear the chickens clucking

from inside the fresh slaughterhouse


and the people outside waiting are so calm

playing on cell phones and smoking cigarettes in line


the day before easter on a frigid april morning


i don’t know how this works

do they just go inside and pick out a chicken

send it off to the sacrifice?


i hate my shitty grocery store

but walking to work this morning

i feel a soft fondness for it


the chickens there are already dead and cut and quartered

taking all of the murder out of the meal for me


a block away i can still hear the chickens

only faintly underneath the sound of christian music

playing out inside the compound of

an emergency food pantry


there is a long line of people waiting there as well


a little less cell phone playing

a lot more cigarette smoking


the benevolent church ministers are walking

up and down the line

getting information from the people

and passing out pamphlets


reassuring them that they don’t have to attend services

in order to get some food


god loves each and all of us one and the same, they say


even the guy sleeping underneath his shopping cart

between the enterprise rent-a-car and the honda dealership


he will be risen!

one of the ministers shouts to the crowd

only no one claps or cheers


and on cue the christian music rises to a crescendo

covering the sounds of the chickens and the people


jesus christ with his dull perpetual life of holy servitude

as the rest of us live this way and that


driving fancy cars off of lots

walking to work or standing in long lines

with starving bellies


spending our single short lives in cages

in awe or disgust of that tired crucifixion


apathetic to the whole bloody mess


but always certain that the slaughter will come

and round out the blank spaces of another year.



a most elegant man


a most elegant man is walking behind me

on this cold-as-hell winter morning


he’s got a little snow cap with ear flaps

a thin scarf and a big red beard


he’s keeping pace so that he’s right up my ass

and when i stop on the street, he stops


in new york city this is grounds to commit a murder


but it’s maybe five degrees outside

the wind off the estuary making it worse


i’m carrying ten bags of groceries

five in each hand

and i forgot my goddamned gloves


my fingers look like strands of red pulp

so i couldn’t strangle this man if i wanted to


the guy behind me, he’s got one little bag

and his cell phone


i wish he’d kick it into gear

just pass me or something


when i stop to let him go

he stops to check something on his phone


the wind goes through me like i’m made

of plastic grocery bags


i look back and say, hey, buddy, what the fuck?

but he’s got his earbuds in


i start up again

he starts up again


i can see the apartment building

but it still feels a million miles away

with the wind and this asshole keeping pace


when i get to the door

it makes sense that he lives in the building too


six floors of strangers

living petty little lives


i put the five bags from the one hand in the other

struggle to get out my keys


while the most elegant man waits patiently

for me to unlock the door


i even hold it for him


ten bags and swollen red hands

a smile on my face and murder in my eyes


as the most elegant man passes me


with nary a head nod

or a discreet thank you to boot.



alcoholics anonymous blues


knee deep

into my fourth vodka


i think about the man

this afternoon


whom i gave

the alcoholics anonymous

pamphlets to


wonder what he’s doing tonight

to kill the pain


shake the ice cubes in my glass

before killing the dream in one gulp


then rise for a fifth


as beethoven shits out

another masterpiece

on the old static radio.


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