Drinking and Driving by John Grochalski

everybody is always
drinking and driving in silsbe’s poems
bob and dave and even scott himself
when i read them
i think i know these guys
and next time i see them i’ll have to ask
how in the fuck are any of you still alive
or not in jail on charges?
maybe i’ve forgotten the feel
of a sloshed western pennsylvania night
the ease of passing through streets
in bleary-eyed enlightenment
never worrying if you’ll swerve wrong
and kill some innocent shithead idling on the sidewalk
there are too many people everywhere in new york city
and even at three in the morning
you’re never really alone
i could knife someone in new york
and never feel an ounce of remorse
but that’s a subject for another poem
and not that i see three a.m. much these days
i can’t really remember the last time i drove drunk
i was always more willing to get in the car
with someone who thought they were straight
let them take the fall for humanity
while i fiddled with the car stereo
or pontificated about lousy jobs and women
randy and i, we used to drive pittsburgh
with a plastic bag full of beers at my feet
one time we drank vodka and mountain dew
outside a north hills taco bell
we stole a pitcher of beer in the cage
and passed it back and forth
while listening to this college jazz station
along forbes avenue
and this one time, ron and i were drinking
on i-376 in a snowstorm
he rolled down the window and started swinging
an aluminum bat at this old couple
who cut us off for no reason
i held the steering wheel for him
but i was never behind the wheel, per se
i think the last time i drove drunk was in buffalo years ago
i was working a shitty job
and my wife and i hadn’t seen the sun in months
we went down to this bar
where the bartender told presidential trivia
and they had free popcorn and nachos
beer was cheap in buffalo like it was in pittsburgh
so we got pretty loaded
it was either leave the car there and walk back home
or take our chances on desolate elmwood avenue
i don’t remember much of the drive home
and years later, i checked, and there’s no outstanding
warrant for my arrest
but i do remember that fucking airedale dog
on our street
the way it always lunged and barked at me
how it came at me that night with a new ferociousness
that i’d never seen in it before
it was something like madness or joy
or it was three in the morning too
and the dog was just fucking tired of being woken up
by a couple of drunks
who should’ve been home and in bed
sleeping off the poison and their desolation
hours ago.

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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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