American Seizure by John Grochalski

she comes
walking into the building
says, i just had a seizure outside
someone called EMS for me but i need a place to sit
she wobbles like she’s going to fall over
i grab this puffy green chair
and try to get her in it without touching her
she says, honestly i don’t even know where i am right now
america, unfortunately, i tell her
she doesn’t laugh but sits in the seat
upturning her big black bag all over a table
spilling books and lipstick and tampons and random paper
before springing up, as if cured
to go back outside and smoke a cigarette
leaving the refuse of her life on display like a yard sale
i think, she must be on drugs
my co-worker strolls over and says
she was in here earlier sitting at that very table
eating salt and vinegar chips and drinking soda
with her feet up on the table
an act of indulgence so anathema to having a seizure
and when EMS shows up i go outside
point to her wobbling with cigarette in hand
as they glare at me behind tinted glass
she says, something isn’t right
like inside, like into the core of this nation
starts to flop toward the pavement
as i try and hold her up like some kind of samson
tell the EMS medics: hey, a little help here
but they stand there like two weary travelers
coming off a five hour trip to nowhere good and decent
bored and bemused because they’ve seen it all
they look at me and roll their eyes
one says, hey, we don’t even have our gloves on
bare handed, i feel the small of her back
so boney and brittle as she stumbles again
wanting nothing but to let go and hit that cement
the scent of cigarette smoke and dying trees
too thick on a too warm october afternoon
and finally i say: yeah, well….i’m not wearing gloves either
like it’s a sacrifice to the gods of empathy
who have abandoned this hard land
like my honesty and small sacrifice will somehow save us all.


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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