I probably started writing because nobody I knew was talking about the things I was feeling and thinking. Mostly my poems are attempts at finding some sort of connection on a different level—and I think that’s what I am still trying to do. If you want to check out more of my work, my books include ONE WISH LEFT with Pavement Saw Press and THE LAST LIE with New York Quarterly Books. UNTIL THE LAST LIGHT LEAVES, which focuses on my relationship with a an ex-girlfriend’s autistic son and my more than 30 years managing group homes for the developmentally disabled, came out at the end of 2015.
Sitting around the dinner
table, I imagine you’ve wondered,
once or twice, every night,
whether you were adopted?
Maybe a bored, overworked nurse
placed you in the wrong crib
the evening you were pried
out of your mother’s belly.
Your father could have found you
on an upstate hunting trip
at the mouth of a river nestled
in a basket, or some terrified
fifteen year old girl wrapped
you in a navy blue cardigan
and left you on the back porch
next to bundles of tied together
newspapers. They took you in,
looked at you as a gift or burden
from god and did their best
to nurture you, torture you
in the name of love and family.
Even during today’s Sunday
visit, look to your left, the right,
across the table. If you take
a deep enough breath, the smell
of pot is a fog rising off your sister’s
tan wrinkled skin. Your bother
holds forth like Archie Bunker’s
mentor on sports and race,
celebrity gossip, his five
fucking cats. And god bless
your baby brother, his wife,
two adorable young kids,
working too many hours
downtown in a corner office
overlooking the construction
of The Freedom Tower in risk
management and rooting
for the Yankees, checking
his cell phone every few minutes
to keep track of fantasy leagues.
But you, you’re the weird one,
too quiet, with your writing
and reading, alone, no new
girlfriend, that autistic kid
you still visit in Maine
and now this kidney condition
that you don’t like talking about.
Except the medication didn’t help
and you will eventually, inevitably
need a transplant and siblings
have the best chance of matching.
Using your distant measured news
caster voice, you recite the facts,
describe the procedure, the risks,
success rate and after care, hope
that one of them will love you
enough or feel obligated enough
to consider it and step forward,
help you maybe live a little longer.
-first published in Paterson Literary Review
He leans back
In his leather lounge chair,
drinks a cold Michelob, aims
the remote at the TV.
Click. Channel 16.
The Knicks-Sixers game.
Nothing but a bunch of monkeys
jumping up and down the court.
He flicks the switch.
Channel 7. Eye Witness News
shows a march through Bensonhurst.
whites line the streets, spit
watermelon seeds chant
NIGGERS GO HOME
NIGGERS GO HOME
His fingers find the beat, drum
the arm rest in time. Al Sharpton
steps to the microphone, starts
He grits his teeth,
mumbles, “Shut the fuck up.”
the screen flashes gray, swallows
that fat black face in one big gulp.
He finishes his beer, goes
upstairs to shower, and comes down
smelling of Brut, dressed in blue.
Strapping a belt around his waist,
he places the .38 in its holster,
picks up his night stick,
walks out the door.
-first published in The New York Quarterly
©2016 Tony Gloeggler
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