At The Diane Arbus Exhibit by John Grochalski

somewhere vacant
between the photo
of the clown in the fedora
and the gaudy suburban christmas tree
i realize that this is what i’m doing now
to simply try and fill in the moments
like everyone else here
i have this time that i must cut down this afternoon
like timber forests, like stalks of tall grass
only to begin the work of existence again the next day
before this exhibit
it was a thirty-block walk up madison avenue
dodging people and traffic
it was an indian food lunch on 46th street
a ride on the D train that simply took forever
a stop at the ATM
where my OCD got the best of me
and i could not leave the vestibule
without making sure i had my debit card at least six times
it was those trying moments
crying like a child in a cold yellow vet’s office
putting my seventeen year-old cat to sleep
because she’s gone senile
and could no longer hold in her bowels at will
only hours after waking
into another cold gray dawn
to another cold gray puddle of piss on my couch
i realize this
i feel this moment weigh on me like an anvil
life and death at the diane arbus exhibit
hold my fingers to my nose
smell the acrid ammonia scent of the dead cat’s urine
underneath the traces of turmeric and cumin
embedded in my fingernails
checking my reflection in the smiling visage of the clown
i acknowledge this existence
somehow keep it together in the moment
then slowly move on
to the next picture.


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), and the novel, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press 2013). Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, in the section that doesn’t have the bike sharing program.

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