Girl Playing Guitar at the 36th Street Station (Brooklyn) by John Grochalski

she has a voice so lovely
that it could break my consternation
shake me out of this malaise
this impending dread that i always seem
to carry about at intermittent moments these last few years
she’s singing something familiar to me
dylan, i think, maybe neil young
i’m getting lyrics here and there as i pass down the platform
but nothing concrete enough for me to know what it is
it’s eerie at the 36th street station this evening
it’s unusually empty for a weeknight
normally this place is packed with a cacophony of sound
that would make it hard to hear one guitar player
strumming in our midst
no, this evening it’s just one dude selling churros
bobbling his head to the music
and a couple of other people playing on their phones
the guitar player’s voice it echoes like we’re in a concert theater
it becomes obvious to me that she’s playing one of her own songs
something original to break the monotony
of days that run together and are hardly ever noticed
maybe she feels larger than life right here and now
in control of the moment, her voice a subtle mercy
immortal like i do when i get a poem or story finished
only to feel deflated and common the next morning
when the emotion of what i want to say
fails to reveal itself in the next thing that i want to write
i think i should walk back down the platform
and throw a buck or so in her guitar case
celebrate our common ground
with a little monetary kickback of gratitude
but no one else is milling around her
and i just don’t want the kind of connection this evening
that goes with being face to face and eye to eye so alone
suddenly i just want a damned train to show up
mine or another, whatever crowds this station with noise
so that i don’t have to hear the guitar or her voice
the way it’s cadence begs and pleads
for my trepidation to blossom into a flower
turn into the type of tenderness
i’m not longer sure that i have
an openness that maybe i abandoned
several songs and many subway ride 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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