Coin Machine by John Grochalski

there is only one
coin machine left
in the neighborhood
which is good when you
have a ten pound sack of change
burning a hole in your pocket
and over a week’s worth
of laundry left to do
it’s at the bank on 86th
but i don’t like going there
because it’s run by amazonians
in short skirts and high heels
who sit on thrones of judgement
behind thick walls of glass
usually i beg my wife to go in
and do our fiduciary dirty work
while i stand outside the bank
like a pimp waiting to collect
i liked the bank better on 5th avenue
their coin machine had a cartoon
of some annoying freckle-faced kid
who cajoled you along
while you dumped the change
into the big silver baskets
she always reminded you
to check the coin slot for any missing change
i ounce found a peso that way
come to think of it
i usually had my wife stand in line
to collect the change for us there too
while i milled about the entrance
trying to steal free pens and lollipops
from under the glare of the rent-a-cop
i don’t know why i am the way i am
about these coin machines
everyone has something that
makes them feel bass and low
things like meatloaf for dinner
or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
check cashing joints or pro-wrestling
mine is turning change into dollars
at the coin machine
if i were a psychiatrist maybe
i’d link this to sitting at home with my folks
rolling all of our loose change
into those coin holders and then
spending the cash money for groceries
or putting it in the bank for bills
because for years we didn’t have a pot to piss in
maybe i just don’t like the glare
of the amazonians behind thick glass
because this one time i went
and did the coin machine without my wife
and when i came to the teller to collect
the amazonian gave me the money
in all small bills like i had a bookie to pay off
or was jonesing for a pint of something
and i wanted to tell her, mam,
you got this all wrong
i need this money for laundry
not gambling and booze
i wanted to tell her, look,
i’ve got a master’s degree and a pension
i’ve seen london and france
and have vomited a stone’s throw
from priceless picassos in madrid
but i didn’t say anything to her
instead i took the money and left
like i was fleeing the scene of a bank robbery
got outside and put some of the money
in my wallet aside for groceries
and the rest of it i took next door
to the liquor store
where i bought a magnum bottle
of red chillean wine
because forty seven instant dollars
is nothing to sneeze at
and sometimes, though i hate to admit it
people are spot on
when they see you coming
and they reserve the right to judge.

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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