Wednesday, September 15, 2021

endless breadsticks and salad by John Grochalski

there are at least
half of a dozen kids
running around screaming

the woman next to me
sounds like she’s hacking up a lung

and the party of twelve
taking up the backroom

can’t seem to speak below
a deafening decibel

they all weigh at least four-hundred pounds

keep filling their mouths
with the endless breadsticks and salad

that this abomination of a restaurant
offers up as enticement to come here

it’s saturday night in strip mall america

and though we’ve all made
the conscious decision to be here

i feel like a fucking alien

the waitresses are all blonde
the waitresses are all named becky

i can’t seem to find my becky
to refill my glass of cheap, shitty chianti

every becky that goes by
i raise my eyebrows and then my glass

then think, that’s not her
or, shit, maybe it is

there’s nothing left to do but endure
think of nero murdering catholics in ancient rome

ponder my empty wine glass
and the ruination of native lands

as kids run and scream
and fat people scream and laugh

wait for becky to bring out
the burnt, lackluster entrée
that the menu tells me is italian food

order another cheap, shitty wine

watch as cars cruise up and down the boulevard

full of other obese, hungry families
looking for a different corporate trough

as the hacking woman
shoves breadstick after breadstick
into her purse

like she’ll never get another meal
like there isn’t another one of these wretched places

two blocks up
and one avenue over

in another strip mall

next to the exxon station
on the right.

 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), and The Philosopher’s Ship (Alien Buddha Press, 2018). He is also the author of the novels, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press 2013), and Wine Clerk (Six Gallery Press 2016).  Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, where the garbage can smell like roses if you wish on it hard enough. 

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