person Tony Gloeggler, two poems

Tony Gloeggler is a lifelong resident of NYC whose poems have appeared in Rattle, Chiron Review, New Ohio Review, The Raleigh Review, Nerve Cowboy, and Ted Kooser’s newspaper feed. His full length books include One Wish Left (Pavement Saw Press 2002), The Last Lie (NYQ Books 2010), and Until The Last Light Leaves (NYQ Books 2015). He was a finalist for the 2016 Binghamton University Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award. His work focuses on his connection to an ex-girlfriend’s autistic son and his 35 years of managing group homes for mentally challenged men in Brooklyn.

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WAR STORIES

When we’re all sitting
around waiting for buses
to pull up to the curb, drop
the guys off from day
program or watching TV
waiting for ten o’clock
and the night shift to take
our place, sometimes talk
turns to back in the day:
The first time they came over
for lunch, how Jimmy fit
an entire Big Mac in his mouth,
the special sauce spraying
the table like a hydrant
on the summer’s hottest day
and Liz shaking her head
whispering he’s gonna be
a shit load of trouble. I smiled,
knowing he wasn’t assigned
to me. That Sunday afternoon
when Raphael the worker
you’d least want to see walking
toward you on a late night
empty street, fell asleep
and Jimmy spread his feces
through Raphael’s perfectly
picked afro. Jose promising
to take Jimmy to the hookers
on Third Avenue for a half
and half on his twenty-first
birthday. The quiet summer
morning Jean started screaming
and I flew down the stairs,
saw her leaning over Jimmy’s
bed trying to wake him,
yelling come on boy, breathe.
She grabbed his shoulders,
I took his legs and we lifted,
carried him to the floor,
stretched him flat
on his back. I tilted
his chin, cleared his airway,
covered his mouth with mine
and blew, then compressed
his chest and she counted
over and over until
the paramedics clattered
up the stairs. I stood
in the doorway, out
of breath, tasting
his vomit, sweat stinging
my eyes, almost crying
when the medics gave up
on Jimmy, the one guy
I never learned to like.

*Published previously in Two Bridges Review

THE LAST GOOD THING

It was the Sunday
my father felt strong
enough to get out
of bed, take baby steps
to the bathroom. He fumbled
with buttons, tugged the top
over his head, unsnapped
his bottoms and let them
slide down his legs. Crouched

like a catcher, I untangled
his pajamas, removed
his slippers as he sat
down to piss. I ran
the bathwater, tested it,
turned on the shower.
He grabbed my arm, leaned
on the sink and lifted
himself to his feet, stepped
into the tub. The water
hit his neck, rolled
off his shoulders. I watched
his eyes shut, lips
part and whisper sighs

soft as first kisses brushed
on park benches. I lathered
up the sponge, scrubbed
his back. When water
splashed my glasses, soaked
my clothes, I stripped
down to boxers, stepped
in with him and walked
all the way to Brooklyn:

My father crosses Stockholm Street
carrying his tools. He straddles
the Johnny Pump, pulls,
bangs and yanks until
water explodes, roars out
of the hydrant’s mouth
and the block of kids cheer
like he’s some God
sending down rain. Afraid
of slipping, he turned
slowly, gripping my shoulders.
I took my time, soaped
under his arms, between

his legs. When I stood,
he pulled me close, tightened
his arms around me, kissed
my neck. I tried not to cry
when he said he could stay
like this forever, stay
until he died, until
the hot water got cold.

*Published previously in The Ledge

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