Little By Little by John Grochalski

the faces on the train tonight
look cold, damaged and dead

in this city we are killing ourselves
little by little every day

this afternoon a twelve-year-old asked me
what i’d like to do for a living
if i didn’t have my current job

in that way twelve-year-olds have
of asking the right kind of dumb questions

i told her that i would’ve made a good
unemployed son of a wealthy family

she laughed, told me to be serious
asked me why i took this job in the first place

i thought about the years working
in warehouses, retail and white collar offices with no windows

the clerk jobs that allowed me to live part-time

i told her that this was an easier death
that now i was only killing myself little by little
instead of in big chunks

the twelve-year old laughed at me, snapped her gum
and started playing with the pens on my desk

like the little flirt she’s becoming
she winked at me and said, i think i understand

but sitting here tonight
on another train ride full of the dead
that smells like the world’s bathroom

going home only to gear up for another tomorrow

little by little i begin to think
that she just didn’t get me at all.

John Grochalski is the author of The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser After You Punch Out,
Glass City, In The Year of Everything Dying, Starting with the Last Name Grochalski,
and the novel, The Librarian. Grochalski lives in Brooklyn, where he constantly worries
about the high cost of everything.

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