worst agonies

some days
the worst agonies
are typical things
like missing the train
after sitting through a meeting
or watching a stranger
smile at a child.

it is standing in line
for a jar of gravy
behind someone with
a cartload of shit
as the cashier talks on
her cellular phone
as people talk about
the cover stories
on celebrity magazines
and you realize that it
takes so much effort
to sound so common.

it is watching a baseball game
in october, drunk,
with the lights off
and the workday hours away
it is getting political pamphlets
in the mail
or waiting on the sun to shine
after another bout of insomnia.

the worst agonies
are so simple and precise
a broken stoplight
a lost pen
losing a page in a book
a job interview
the way shadows fall
on the next ugly block
that you must tread toward
your own personal hell
it is hoping to win
but knowing always that
you will lose
it is realizing that death is actual
and that poetry rarely pays the bills.

some days
the worse agonies
come from just having to say hello.
the worst agonies
come from smiling at a neighbor
or just getting out of bed.

and those are the days
my friends
that youíre happy
you donít own a gun
youíre scared of heights
and that the oven
is electric
and not gas

end again

i remember
she was crying on the phone
she said
i couldíve waited
until you were thirty
or forty even
but you had
to go and screw all of this up
my mother thinks
youíre cheating on me
and i donít know
what to think
and really
youíve left
me no choice here
but to end this
so thatís
what iím doing
right now
iím ending things with you.
then she got off the phone
and i left the basement
to get myself
a beer from the refrigerator
i went into the backyard
it was november
thirty degrees outside
and i was only
twenty-one years old
and i swear
i felt better in that moment
than i had in the
last six months
and fourteen years later
i still get a tingle
in my chest
just thinking about it.
so thank you
thank you, mary
it was the best thing
youíd ever done for me
in our twenty-one months together,

John Grochalski is a published writer whose poems have 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, Thieves Jargon, Underground Voices, Why Vandalism, Eclectica, Zygote In My Coffee, Gloom Cupboard, and forthcoming in the Kennesaw Review, Re)Verb, Octopus Beak Inc., and Cherry Bleeds. His short fiction has appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and in the forthcoming anthology Living Room Handjob. Grochalsk's column The Lost Yinzer appears quarterly in The New Yinzer (www.newyinzer.com), and his book of poems The Noose Doesn't Get Any Looser After You

Punch Out is forthcoming via Six Gallery Press.

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