Running Hoops

the shine of the beer
off the light,
and whitman looking down
at me
from a torn photo on the
so many great ghosts
hanging there,
so many of them
that i've spent my adult
trying to catch up
but it seems i always
when i get close enough,
or that i was never there
to begin with.
and then that's when
i sit
at the cold desk
in this cold room without
a name,
turn on the machine,
and start running,
like a goddamned circus

the prettiest girl in the bar

she had been taking his shit all
the abuse and the words
when i stepped in and told
her she was the prettiest
in the bar that night.
and who knew if it was true,
except i felt she needed,
to hear it right then and there.
i know that he didn't buy it
because he made a scene
with cigarettes and beer bottles,
and then left soon after,
not willing to deny or accept
what i'd just said.
after that, i left our table
to play the jukebox,
an old elvis song that my wife
likes to say reminds her
of that very joint we were in.
i drank a beer and a shot of whisky
alone at the bar,
and watched the night turn
into morning behind the smear
of neon.
then i came back to rejoin everyone,
wondering who would say what

John Grochalski is a published writer whose poetry
has appeared in Avenue, The Lilliput Review, The
New Yinzer, The Blue Collar Review, The Deep
Cleveland Junkmail Oracle, The ARTvoice, Modern
Drunkard Magazine, The American Dissident, Words-Myth,
My Favorite Bullet, The Main Street Rag, and Thieves
Jargon. His short fiction has appeared in the
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and his column The Lost
Yinzer appears quarterly in The New Yinzer. His
book of poems The Noose Doesn't Get Any Looser
After You Punch Out
is coming out via Six Gallery
Press in 2008.

2008 Underground Voices