Tony Gloeggler


I was one of the stars
of my Catholic high school
baseball team. Riding shotgun
on our way to an away game,
I ignored the song on the radio,
closed my eyes and imagined
my high kick wind-up, the ball
exploding out of my hand, flying
past the batter’s too late swing
in cartoon colors when Doug Dwyer
grabbed the hair hanging down
my neck and yelled in a John Wayne
kind of drawl let’s round us up
some long haired Jews and fags
and kick some ass. I shook my head,
mumbled let’s grab us some spics
and niggers too when I realized
Billy Mitchell, one of the half dozen
black kids in the school, was sitting
behind me. Everything blurred
and the song on the radio began
to bend, fade farther away, as I felt
red heat creep up my neck and reach
my face. Turning as fast as I could,
I said that I didn’t mean anything
by it, that I was only joking, shit
I’m sorry. Billy didn’t say a thing,
didn’t shrug or nod. He kept staring
out the window. Finally, I did too,
trying to find the world he lived in.

First published in Spillway



I wait at the top of the landing
to let the young Asian woman
carry her bicycle up the stairs.
I think she lives next door to me,
but when I try to find her eyes
and start to say good morning,
she hurries by, head down. Maybe
I forgot to plug in my headphones
again last night, played old man
rock and roll too loud, did sounds
of porn moan from my computer
screen, penetrate through the wall?
Or maybe she and her boyfriend
were screaming at each other again
last night, a glass, no, a plate, smashing
against the wall, the guy saying he’s sick
of this, every damn night, and leaving,
her opening the kitchen window, sticking
her head out, yelling she can’t live
without him? Walking quickly past me
this morning, deep blue make-up trying
to hide bruises around her dark eyes.


Tony Gloeggler is a life-long resident of New York City and has managed group homes for the mentally challenged for over 40 years. His work has appeared in Rattle, New Ohio Review, One, Crab Creek Review, Chiron Review & Nerve Cowboy. His most recent book What Kind Of Man, with NYQ Books, was a finalist for the 2021 Paterson Poetry Prize and long listed for Jacar Press’ Julie Suk Award.