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Hunger by John Grochalski

hunger

he’s eating something italian
out of a styrofoam container
over a blue garbage can that matches his coat
occasionally he lifts up a plastic jug to his mouth
and takes a big drink
of something cloudy that has noodles in it
he’s a discerning and somewhat picky eater
picking things out of the can
and discarding them at will
he likes the half-eaten bacon roll
but isn’t much for the unwrapped snickers
a few blocks ago i had a hunger that i couldn’t stand
and had to stop and split a butter bagel with my wife
after all, it had been ten hours since my last meal
and i wasn’t sure if i could hold out for lunch
he goes back to the italian food
which might be beef or chicken or, god forbid, veal
there’s not even an italian joint around this block
so someone had to go far to toss this out
but it’s his good luck that it was sitting there
on top of the half-drunk tub of coffee
and the barely touched pork fried rice
he has a beard like santa claus
that is wet from the cloudy noodle concoction
just like the front of his coat is soggy too
and as he chews he doesn’t even watch the crowd
glide by playing on cell phones
while i think for a single moment
about buying him a bagel and a coffee
but don’t because i’m a chicken
and i’d probably be doing it more for myself than him anyway
so i walk off and head into sunset park
so proud of my imaginary altruism
astounded that my stomach is still growling
taking pictures of that beautiful skyline of manhattan
there in the distance
looking fat enough to feed off of everyone
looking like a crystal or golden palace of plenty
depending on your position
and the tilt of the morning sun.


John Grochalski is the author of The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser After You Punch Out (Six Gallery Press 2008), Glass City (Low Ghost Press, 2010), In The Year of Everything Dying (Camel Saloon, 2012), Starting with the Last Name Grochalski (Coleridge Street Books, 2014), and the novels, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press 2013), and Wine Clerk (Six Gallery Press 2016).  Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, where the garbage can smell like roses if you wish on it hard enough.

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