The populist

Poetry by John Grochalski ∞ Art by Emiliano Zingale

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we don’t know

where this world

is going to go these days

all these madmen wanting to take us to the brink

it’s like a mahler symphony

so up and down, so full of bombast one minute

subtle and barely audible the next

no, it’s like a god awful soap opera

that’s reaching for ratings through bloodshed

and amal stands behind me cursing into his cell phone

he hold up an image of the populist

orange faced and combed over

a designer blue suit that still looks cheap

we watch him hitler salute a room full

of dead white relics hoisting american flags

he says, i hate this man

i hope someone knocks him out

i hope he falls down the stairs on national television

and breaks every bone in his body

i hope he….but amal doesn’t say it aloud

in this room full of mixed company and suspicion

he’s better than the men who want to run this country

he stands there all sweat and anger

he has known a kind of hatred in america

that i’ll never be able to describe

because i’ve been given a free pass with my skin

because i look like every man standing with the populist

the kind lone women still make wide ends around

when we’re coming home alone together in the dark

what is there to tell amal?

that he holds the future more than any of this?

this too shall pass…he shall fucking overcome?

yes, yes, i think i could do that

but amal has already put his phone away

storming out

he leaves me nothing to hold onto

but a wake of frustration and fear

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watching marshmallow


take a monstrous morning shit

in the barren flower bed outside my window

as his owner shouts into her phone


i think at least the two of them are consistent

unlike poetry or hot water in this place


they are like death and taxes


i never liked marshmallow, even as a pup

the kind of terrier mix you make big u-shapes around

with an insidious bark and that awful name


cooed at during periwinkle stretches

of the most ungodly of morning hours


the way his excrement stench wafts into the apartment


along with his owner’s cigarette smoke

along with the bleating, nasal pace

of her inane and desperate conversations


but still i stand there, hidden by navy blue curtains,

watching the dog do his business


like i’m viewing some sort of alien ritual

like an old man with nothing better on his agenda

than to spend his fleeting hours sitting in a laundromat


never understanding why i don’t get things done


as ms. owner stubs out another ciggie

suggests that someone on the other line bite her


the two of us mesmerized by marshmallow’s

big fat turd steaming in the march cold


fertilizing nothing by the frozen dirt and weeds

and the last line of another mediocre poem

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