The Martyr by John Grochalski

i was so stupid back then
though i’ll note i’m not much smarter now
but it seemed that
i wanted to feel bad all of the time
i think i got off on the pain of finding the one girl
who wanted nothing to do with me
and just fall head over heels for her
dedicate long love poems in my head to her
lay on my side in my sad bedroom
listening to music and thinking of her always
composing memories in my mind
of all of the things we’d never share
i was a sick fool
i needed good heartache to survive
soul-bashing was my bread and butter
my sacred manna…you get the drift
but all those wasted thoughts!
all that yearning spent on girls
who hated me upon sight!
or who barely knew that i existed at all
this one, i remember i wrote her name plus mine
on the desk i knew she used
for the next period in school
such a self-sabotaging fool i was!
of course, she and her friends
made fun of me for months afterwards
following me in the halls
calling me out
mocking me with how much in love she was too
oh, it was such glorious pain
such a fantastic chain whipping to receive every school day
a wondrously raw bounty to take home with me
and coddle like a child
i swear it almost felt like love
to lie on my bed and know that i’d made some mark
the music and the thoughts feeling so much stronger
until the emptiness started to kick in
the knowledge that soon they’d be done with me
and on to something else
the fear that i’d become invisible once again
stuck with myself and myself only
and that i’d have to move on
and fall in love with someone else.

John Grochalski is the author of 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), the novel, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press 2013), and the forthcoming novel, The Wine Clerk (Six Gallery Press 2016). Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, in the section that doesn’t have the bike sharing program.

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