Tony Gloeggler


My friend’s wife has a niece
who is autistic. He doesn’t seem
to believe that I never wish
Jesse was different. He talks
about missing the big things
like proms and graduations.
I joke about the perks, not
worrying about Jesse using
nonprescription drugs, driving
drunk on weekends, paying
for college, pretending to like
the woman he wants to marry.
I tell him I take Jesse as he is
and I know what not to expect,
how every new tiny thing
he does grows in magnitude:
the first time he ran to me, grabbed
my hand when I picked him up
at school, the first morning
he walked into our Brooklyn
bedroom to cuddle between us,
that one time he scavenged
through his cluttered sensations,
strung four words together
and told me clearly ‘Tony
come back August .’ I explain
I am one of the chosen few
that Jesse invites into his world
and it helps me imagine
I am special with unique super
powers. But yes, I am lying
a bit. I’ve always wanted to lift
him on my shoulders, six years
old and singing that he believes
in the promise land at a Springsteen
show, play some one on one
in a schoolyard, keeping it
close and never letting him
win until he beat me on his own.
And yes, this past weekend
in Vermont, I wish he watched
television. We would have sat
and argued when Girardi
benched A-Rod, ate salty snacks
as the Yanks played the Orioles
in the deciding fifth game.
Instead, I sat on a kitchen stool,
listening to the radio broadcast
while Jesse was happy in his room
tearing pages of picture books
into piles of thin paper strips.


Tony Gloeggler is a life-long resident of New York City. His work has appeared in Rattle, The Raleigh Review, The Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy and Skidrow Penthouse. His books include One Wish Left (Pavement Saw press 2002 and The Last Lie (NYQ Books/2010). Until The Last Light Leaves (NYQ Books 2015) was a finalist in the 2016 Binghamton University Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award and focuses on his connection to an ex-girlfriend’s autistic son and his 35 years of managing group homes for the mentally challenged in Brooklyn.