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John Grochalski

arriving at work
to the homeless man who smells like urine

he sits on the stoop
like a sickly shroud
smelling faintly of urine

he’s huddled in black

black suitcase
black duffle bag at his side

his face ghostly and pale
his lips white with kidney failure

sometimes there is a beer bottle or two at his side

he sits there shivering
as people walk by going to work
with huge coffees and bagel sandwiches
and little rolly bags trailing them like dogs

in less than twenty minutes
i will let him inside
where he will find a chair and read or sleep

until he pisses himself anew
the good people complain
and i have to ask him to leave

arriving at work
to the homeless man who smells like urine

sometimes i think about
how glad i am that i’m not him

but sometimes i think about
how the only real choices in america
are to work like a dog until you’re half-dead
or to end up smelling like piss in the street

how everyone in this shithole nation
is just a few bad mondays
from being just like this guy

a few bad breaks
and america will throw you away
like trash

then i go inside
and i sit at my desk in the dark
with my head buried in my hands

and i wait for something better
that will never come.     

John Grochalski is the author of the poetry collections, 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 Philosopher’s Ship (Alien Buddha Press, 2018). He is also the author of the novels, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press 2013), and Wine Clerk (Six Gallery Press 2016).  Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, in the part that voted for Trump, so may God have mercy on his soul.

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