Tuesday, September 24, 2013

the model / comedian / gimme shelter

John Grochalski

My poetry and prose have appeared in several online and print publications including:  Red Fez, Rusty Truck, Outsider Writers Collective, Underground Voices, The Lilliput Review, The Main Street Rag, Zygote In My Coffee, The Camel Saloon, and Bartleby Snopes.  I have two books of poetry The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser After You Punch (Six Gallery Press) and Glass City (Low Ghost Press), and a novel, The Librarian forthcoming. My chapbook In the Year of Everything Dying can be viewed via Camel Saloon’s Books on Blogs series (http://booksonblog26.blogspot.com/).

the model

he says this autumn has turned

back into spring

he was a bus driver for two years

but quit because he couldn’t handle

doing eight straight every day

but look at these guys, he says

as we watch the drivers change shifts

now they make eighty grand a year

for what?

sitting on their asses?

but it’s no matter to me

i’m 72 years-old and have a gig as a model

man i got the body of a 20 year old under this jacket

because i walk from brooklyn to manhattan every day

it’s only coincidence that i’m on the bus this evening

talking to you

but this modeling gig is big time at some art school

they have me get up on a stool

sometimes in a g-string

sometimes naked

all of these old ladies paint me or sketch me

i get a couple hundred a session for that

more when some of the old bats take me home

for a personal session or to ride my stump

so i ain’t so worried about giving up that bus driver gig

all of them years ago

who wants to sit on their ass all day every day?

i mean look at me, man

72 years old and i look like i’m 20

rock hard

no butter no bread no pizza

and i don’t even miss it but sometimes

because life is hard

and you got to have something in it to fill those hours

trust me i know

i lost my whole family seven years ago in a car wreck

my wife my daughter my mother

after that i just cut out of life

i slept in my car down at the 68th street pier

because i didn’t want to go home

i had no home, kid

i had no money

but i wasn’t about to go

and become something like a goddamned bus driver

there’s money to made anywhere

like this guy from a diner called me

because he heard about my mother dying

he wanted to meet me

said he was her old boyfriend

so i go to his diner and he starts telling me all about my mother

shit from before i was born

and he’s crying and i’m crying

only i notice this girl sitting near by

a cute blonde in baggy jeans and sneakers just writing away

turns out she worked for warner brothers

a few weeks later i get a call from her to meet at that diner

when i show up there she’s dressed to kill

painted toenails

fishnets tight

yellow skirt

says they want to do a movie about my life

she offers me good money but i don’t take it

i tell her i got money

which i did from the insurance settlement from the car wreck

i tell her maybe i’ll sign on for a movie

if i get a terminal disease or something

and this girl is so kind i start telling her more about my wife

bless her soul

and we hit it off

it turns out she’s an actress too

stared in the men in black films

the diner has her picture up there on the wall

it’s still there

and even though she’s 19 and i’m older than her old man

we start seeing each other

it blows me away how she handles my stump like she does

sure, i give her money

a grand here

a grand there

for acting lessons or whatever

she keeps telling me she’ll pay me back when she gets famous

but i tell her we have an affair of the heart

not the pocketbook

and what do i care for money?

having lost my family recently

my wife my poor sweet wife

she looked just like olive oil

she knew warhol and was a painter too

warhol was from pittsburgh

just like that steelers hat that you’re wearing

and i can’t help but think my wife sent me this blonde

to help me get over her

christ what a wild ride existence is

all that love

all that sex

you just don’t find women like her now

especially not on these buses

where all of the women are losers

even with their painted toenails and haircuts

there all dead

they go home and hump their cell phones

still live with their parents

but, man, you really should try getting a modeling gig

i mean i never believed that at 72

i’d have women chasing me the way that they do

chomping up my stump the way that they are

it’s almost like i’m in heaven despite it all

i’m in heaven here on earth

this bus

this life

talking to you on a random monday night, kid

it’s all bliss.





he’s thirteen


he always has something smart to say

about everything


it’s dumb shit

but it’s enough to make the sycophants around him

cackle like fucking hyenas


i don’t like this kid

i don’t like his face or his jokey crap


i didn’t like him when he was younger either

and just honing his comedic skills


i think maybe i don’t like him

because he’s thirteen and i’m thirty-nine


i was a comedian too when i was his age


i used to burn the adults up with my stuff

and get the kids howling


one of my teachers tossed me

out of her classroom for a week


she made me carry all of my locker things and books

inside of a black garbage bag


but i never had hangers-on the way this kid does


and girls


he’s thirteen and he has fifteen year-old girls

already giving him the eye


fifteen year-old girls ignored me

when i was thirteen


and fifteen

and eighteen

and thirty-nine


this kid is a looker

and he doesn’t need to use his humor

as a defense mechanism because he’s ugly and fat


like i was


he’s going to break a shitload of hearts as he ages

because looks and humor are a deadly combination

and he’s already wise to that


that’s why he can be such a smartass


i know that it’s wrong to think this way

but i hope this comedian knocks up

one of those girls he’s got fawning over him


some seventeen year-old

when he’s fifteen and even more funny than he is now


i hope that he has to drop out of school

and get a job at mcdonald’s


then maybe i’ll start eating fast food again


i’ll visit the kid

while he’s frying horse meat and potatoes at the job


dust off some of my old a-list material

just to see how it goes over with him


show him that i got no hard feelings

about him being a little prick back in the day


and that i’m still a pretty good comedian too



gimme shelter


there’s this part in the stones’ song

where merry clayton is belting out the words





with a such a ferocity that she damned near

squeals the line


right after

you can hear mick jagger shout, whoa


completely improvised


a complement as solitary and brutal as a song

that’s held up better than most for over forty-years


whenever i listen to gimme shelter

i think about being in sandy monroe’s apartment

which was above a sub shop in pittsburgh


how a group of us would go to his place to get stoned

and listen to records on monday nights

before the football games


most of us broke and hungry from the smells

of roasted meats and baking bread coming from below


it was sandy who first pointed out

the clayton/jagger exchange to me


excitedly shouting


here it comes!

listen to this!


as clouds of perfumed smoke choked the air


and to this day i wait for it to come

like an expectant child





even though i’m getting grayer by the day


and, yes, maybe i play the song too loudly at home

or in my headphones


i’m sure that i am today

because this old bitch on the bus keeps giving me the evil eye


while i have the stones playing

waiting on merry clayton to tear my heart to shreds

with her ominous, pleading threats


she’s put cotton balls in her ears

and keeps shaking her head at me


like i’m some kind of fucking devil


like it’s 1969 and her world is being destroyed again

by this piece of music


she’s moved seats three times to get away from the noise

and is starting to rally the troops in her favor


soon they’ll go to the bus driver


but i don’t fucking care


i’ve suffered these people so much on this bus

that it’s time i made a little bit of racket


have suffered so much bullshit

both monumental and trivial since those youthful days

at sandy monroe’s house


that i’m going to hear merry clayton belt it


and this lady and her minions

can either give in and wait me out


or else

it’ll be altamont all over again


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