John Grochalski

good samaritan (approximately)

i count the years
toward some retirement

and pick dried rosacea
off of my face

as the workday morning sun leaves
its heavenly shit stains
on buildings and the streets

and they are stepping over him
like he’s a fresh turd on the pavement

people on cell phones
people holding gigantic cups of coffee

little kids galloping over him
like he’s a park playset

he is facedown
sprawled out like a di vinci

with a puddle of blood up by his head
soaking into the ground

worked over, drunk or both

well, they say this city is becoming
more and more violent so…

i want to walk on too
leave this scene of vicious slumber

but i’m still too tethered to humanity
in some sick dependent way

i pull out my phone and call 911
as the corpse begins to wake enough
to rise and sit on his ass

he’s a mess
mouth and nose splattered with fresh blood

wide-open gash of pink flesh
above his left eye

the city is loud this morning
and the 911 operator can’t hear what i’m saying

i’m calling out intersections
and street names
into the cruel, cacophonous void

i shout into the phone,
we’ve all failed each other

then i hang up
before the 911 operator can respond

and say, good luck buddy,
to punch-drunk still sitting on his ass

but sirens ring in the distance
so maybe someone will be saved

it feels good to be useful
it feels good to help one of our fallen

for a minute

then i look at my watch
to see that this whole ordeal
is going to make me late for work

and i curse the bloody man
on the ground

the whole of humanity
who came upon him before me

the city
this madness

my daily pulse of life

for a goddamned buck and dime.


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), The Philosopher’s Ship (Alien Buddha Press, 2018), and Eating a Cheeseburger During End Times (Kung Fu Treachery, 2021). He is also the author of the novels, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press 2013), Wine Clerk (Six Gallery Press 2016), and P-Town: Forever (Alien Buddha Press, 2021). Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.