Four Poems

by John Grochalski

 

outplayed

 

portia

walks with me from class to hillman library

as snow turns to rain

spring

i swear it takes too long to get here

and when it does i long for the winter

portia says she has two jobs

one waitressing one bartending

she knows the world about beer

porters and stout and lagers and pilsners

ipas and a swiss white chocolate beer

that sounds like hell

i tell her as long as it’s cold and frothy

but she doesn’t laugh

she stops me in all seriousness

we stand under my umbrella

says, have you ever had a flaming dr. pepper?

close red lipstick lip almost whispered in my ear

like she’d say, let’s just run away from all of this

it’s made with amaretto

i’ll make you one if you ever come down

the sharper edge on friendship avenue

aussie’s on liberty avenue

and i can’t tell her that i was in there

last saturday night

have those bars emblazoned in my mind

calvin and i amidst aging night owls

violet-white neon light

meeting steve to drive off to wherever

rustic shinny wood with a long bar

round wood tables and girls galore

but no portia

and at midnight on the lord’s day

i’m sitting drunk in anthony’s gentleman’s club

more half-naked women dry humping poles

for my hard-earned dollar

portia stops me again and lifts up her shirt a little

pierced belly button under my umbrella

she’s sunburned from a tanning salon

says, this hurts so fucking much

but like a good catholic boy

i make sure

not to look.

***

china-girl

 

pretty chinese girls at st. stephen’s green

 

the pretty chinese girls

are at st. stephen’s green

they’re standing in front of the iconic arch

taking as many selfies as humanly possible

they are forming karma sutra positions

one pretty chinese girl climbing over

another pretty chinese girl wrapped beneath

another pretty chinese girl

positioning themselves any way they can

to get that perfect shot

none of the pretty chinese girls

are even looking at the arch

i wonder if they even know they are in dublin

pretty chinese girls can be anywhere in the world

taking photos and complicated selfies

i’ll bet there are pretty chinese girls in manhattan right now

doing the same thing in times square

or i’ll bet they’re in egypt

taking acrobatic pictures in front of the pyramids

smiling in front of muslim brotherhood members

being carted off to die

honesty i don’t mind the pretty chinese girls

they’re young and cute and most everyone i know is old

and has something arbitrary to bitch about

i just wish they’d get out of the way

so that the wife and i could get a picture of the st. stephen’s arch

our own albeit less energetic selfie

so we can go into the park and then head to the pub

where i haven’t seen a pretty chinese girl

hoist a guinness all week

when my wife has had enough of the pretty chinese girls

she starts to wave at them to move

but the pretty chinese girls don’t understand

instead they think my wife wants a picture of them

in all of their asian beauty

so they line up like fashion models in front of the arch

waiting for the click and glamor of our outdated camera

my wife shouts at them, no, no, the arch, the arch

and the pretty chinese girls look back

at the stone structure like they’ve never seen it before

move but an inch out of the way

so my wife can get our long sought after picture

just as some asshole twink in a pink cardigan

walks right into the frame.

***

matchmaker

 

my mother

bless her soul

thought the girls

should all love me

all two-hundred-forty pounds of me

triple-chinned

glasses barely fitting on my fat face

pants specially tailored xxxl me

if she saw me talking to some girl

oh, you should ask her out

she had friends at work

who had daughters my age

co-workers just a couple of years older

it was easy to forgive her

mom wasn’t with me on the school buses

when high school girls laughed at me

until i turned scarlet and bitter

she never sat in english class

and watched jamie johnson play

duck…duck…COW!

when his hand landed on my head

or looked into the sad disappointed eyes

of the other girl

as we both played wingman to our friends

mom just wanted to play

matchmaker for me, i guess

to see me stroll around the mall

like all of those other healthy young couples

instead of watching me

put back three helpings of spaghetti

before attacking an entenmann’s crumb cake

usually i just felt bad

for the girl in those scenarios

like this one blonde cutie

courtney

she worked my brother’s birthday party

at this video store

where they showed 2nd run movies

i was helping her set up chairs

and maybe we were talking about movies

or music or some thing

being the only teenagers in the place

i made her laugh a few times

if nothing else i could always make the girls laugh

being a fat clown came as easy to me

as clearing away a bag of potato chips

but when mom heard the girl

in the throes of laughter

she came over to us and said

you two seem like you’d be real good together

because it’s good to see people

who can make each other laugh

oh, man

the look on this girl’s face

i’d seen it dozens of times

red

nervous

sorrowful

mortified

humiliated

self-conscious

caught

embarrassed

deer-in-the-headlights

get-me-the-hell-out-of-here

she excused herself to go and get the

cake and soda

the stuff i was really there for

and came back ten minutes later

switched from a blonde

to a brunette

nametag switched to a guy named jeff

who called me bro

and said this year was the penguins year

to take it all

man

as i craned my neck

catching courtney’s eyes stocking action films

just before jeff shut the door

and the room

went

celluloid

blue

then black.

***

che guevara

che guevara on the 4 train

 

che guevara is on the 4 train

in his field jacket and beret

getting jostled by straphangers

with big book bags and cell phones

he’s not even trying to hide the fact that it’s him

although his hair is a bit longer

and, of course, it’s gone gray

i want to ask him how he pulled it off

down there in bolivia

how he fooled us all and lived

but che looks like he hates

the 4 train as much as i do

it’s always packed no matter the time of day

and there’s always some asshole standing by the door

who makes it impossible for people

to get on and off at their stop

people are getting slashed

with razor blades down here

some lady got jabbed with a needle last week

and now she has to take these shots

for things like hepatitis and AIDS

i wonder what che guevara thinks about that

like maybe it’s time for a revolution on these trains

i imagine one must get tired of revolutions

of always having to liberate yourself

and a bunch of ungrateful people

che looks tired on this afternoon 4 train

tired of getting smacked with some dude’s book bag

tired of the chick screaming in her phone

and the fat ass trying to eat

an onion and scallion bagel over his head

the people on this train aren’t worth

fighting a revolution for

che and i should throw most of them to the dogs

then head to the MoMA

and catch the end of that picasso exhibit

discuss the benefits of genocide

over coffee or orange spiced tea

plus picasso was kind of a revolutionary too

he refused to leave france during the nazi occupation

and he painted guernica after all

although i don’t know what pablo thought

about the cuban revolution or che guevara

and i doubt he’s ever been on the 4 train

not even once

not even during rush hour

when revolutions are pipe dreams

and it’s every man for himself.

***

John Grochalski’s poetry has appeared in a host of online and print publications including Red Fez, Rusty Truck, The Lilliput Review, Zygote in My Coffee, and many more. He’s authored three books of poetry. His chapbook, In the Year of Everything Dying, can be viewed via Camel Saloon’s “Books on Blogs” series at http://booksonblog26.blogspot.com/.

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