TWO POEMS – John Grochalski

Posted: July 6, 2012 in Fiction, Poetry
Tags: , , , ,

requiem for a bartender #1

he used to stand behind the bar
like a cowboy in pressed jeans
with his plaid shirt tucked in
it was high noon whenever he worked
the way he stalked behind that corroded wood
hitching up his pants
like he had two silver six-shooters
strapped to his hips
scaring the shit out of anyone who dared ask
what he had on tap
read the sign, he’d say
in a midwestern pugilist’s tone
pointing at the drink board
as quick as any two-bit son-of-a-bitch
who had the guts to walk into the fire
between that swaying door
and if it took a man too long to decide
what to drink
he’d sneer at him like he was a coward
then move off toward somewhere else
making the poor fool chase him
only to take his good old time pouring your draft
wiping the bar down like a spit shine
before grabbing the metal tap
belittling the tenderfoot to the regulars
who crowded around him
like a gang of roughnecks
those of us who took years to get into
his good graces
who had bared pleasant witness
to the soft cadence hidden beneath the gruff
hearing the drawl of his badland tales
the ones about the drunken indians
sitting on spittoons
in the back of nebraska watering holes
who knew about his six wives
the fast cars, the horses
and the charred friend he buried in a tuba
those of us who never saw him shine in the sunlight
or held his hope in our confidence
or knew that he had the voice
of a pavarotti nestled
somewhere deep inside of him
that he hadn’t let out in years.

daydreams of albuquerque

the new york blues
the life blues
the tired of work blues

staring in the mirror
at the beginning of another life cycle

nothing but the same tired flesh

having intense discussions
about what’s for dinner
because the source material has run dry

the stagnant pulse of the pension
thumping in my chest

checking the television for something

the nielsen blues
the neighbors shouting out the window blues
the pack of idiot teenager blues

nine years burning at both ends

unable to sleep
never at rest

i think there must be
a place out there that doesn’t wear me down
like this

with vast stretches of road
and rock mountains erect into the infinite

a rio grande resurrection
for the weary

moving slowly below the burnt orange sky.


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