John Grochalski

man boobs

the ten year-old
turns to me and points

you have man boobs, she says

then she grabs the right one and honks

kids say and do the darndest things

an hour ago she
grabbed and shook
some of my beer belly

a part of me thinks this kid
is turning into a fat fetishist
but she’s right
i do have man boobs

had them ever since i was a child

probably inherited them from my grandfather
because he had man boobs too

i’ve tried to hide them
most of my adult life
wearing button down shirts
and clothing a size bigger than i needed

i guess i’m vain in that way

but who gives a fuck now?

i’ve been found out by a ten year-old

my shame caught red handed
my dignity handed to me
by a pair of sticky hands

all those years of hiding shot to shit

i feel free in a way

the kid’s mother laughs
tries to discipline the child

but she’s running around
laughing at my man boobs

she’s shouting

man boobs!
man boobs!

doing cartwheels on the pavement

her face red and round

the picture of health
skipping up and down the block

i stand there and i watch this child
my arms crossed over my man boobs

as if hiding them matters now

i think about how precious children are
what lights they are in all of our lives

war and famine and over population

i remember that this little
precious snowflake of god’s love and joy
is being fitted for braces on friday

i figure if i catch her
when her mother is not around

maybe i’ll get a little bit of revenge i

think maybe it’s going to be open season
on that little metal mouthed freak

at least until she starts to cry


autumn in new york

it’s autumn in new york

and my mother says
the hair follicle tests are costing my brother
one-fifty a pop

he hasn’t even been able
to aford the urine tests

how much are those? i ask

fifty a piece, she thinks
but we’re getting through it, she says

next month your dad
is going up there with him to see the baby

they’re going to bring pumpkins
and carve them at the family center

like real halloween

we’re getting the baby a costume
so she can wear it

your brother is going to take pictures
and maybe we’ll do face time while they’re there
so that i can see her in the costume
and see the pumpkins that they carved

we’ll that sounds nice, i say

it is, i guess
but your brother is trying to get a second job
so that he can keep afording to go up

because it’s hard
with these hair follicle tests
and now these urine tests that she has him doing
even though he hasn’t touched anything in two years

plus he needs a second job
because all of the money goes to going up there
and seeing the baby

because your brother has to see the baby

your dad has to see the baby, too
he’s her grandfather after all

i mean it’s already the autumn

soon it’ll be winter
and with this crazy weather we get now
who knows how long it’ll be
after this.


John Grochalski is the author of The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser Afer You Punch Out (Six Gallery Press 2008), Glass City (Low Ghost Press, 2010), In The Year of Everything Dying (Camel Saloon, 2012), and the forthcoming novel, The Librarian. Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he constantly worries about the high cost of everything.