Fall 2011

Table of Contents - Vol. VII, No. 3


Poetry    Fiction    Translations     Reviews

John Grochalski



you are not americans

aida tells ally and i
you are not americans
but, like us,
aida has been drinking pints of mahou
for almost eight hours
we’re all drunk
and it’s hard to feel like an american
when you’ve been drinking
but i never feel like an american
when i’m in europe
except for the burning desire
to wear a baseball cap backwards
or find a good place to get pizza or a hamburger
you are not americans, aida says
maybe it’s true
i don’t understand half of the things
that go on in america these days
like continued tax breaks for the rich
the lack of universal health care
or why people continue to watch basketball and hockey
you’re not an american
chrst, i like the sound of that
sitting here, drunk, in the plaza santa ana
talking about picasso and joan baez
i never talk to people about picasso
or joan baez in america
although i’m sure they both have fans in the states
i’m sure there are americans
who continue to go to art galleries
or ones that read hemingway
i just don’t know any of them
and finding out who they are is not my concern
because right now i’m not an american
right now i’m spanish or parisian
mostly likely i’ll be perceived as english or a canadian
and that’s fine
if i play my cards right
maybe i could even become japanese
anything but an american
you are not americans, aida says
the pleasure in that concept
it feels liberating
i think that i feel true freedom
for the first time in my life
but deep down i worry
that i’ve somehow fooled my spanish friends
deep down i fear that i am an american
that it’s somehow beyond my control
that cracks will start to show in my european façade
i fear that my true colors will show
that i’ll whip out that baseball cap
start asking the waiters if i can
get a pint of budweiser and a plate of buffalo wings
i worry that i’ll grab the guy next to me
and ask him if the yankees won that night
or what in the hell is going on
with the basketball and hockey playoffs?
i’m afraid that i’ll stand up and start singing
the star-spangled banner, god bless america
yankee doody dandy
tell everyone america love it or leave it
and then just how european will i be?



adios is the saddest word

over the atlantic
ally finally asleep
with this airplane
jostling me toward
a concept called america
oscar, i think of you
standing alone
outside the biblioteca nacional
saying to us
christ, i feel so bad
articulating what we all knew
that we felt
in those final moments
because no matter what
the time for drinks and conversation
had ended at the bar
the toasts to friendship
would have to cease for a while
that no more tapas would
be split in the plaza santa ana
as the sun set on blessed madrid
that the whores on grand via
would see us no more
as we stumbled toward sleep
that this goddamned ocean between us
has a lot of history but no soul
it only works
to keep people apart
i feel the weariness of these miles
thinking of you, mi amigo
as the plane dips
and scares the shit out of everyone
i feel bad too
empty, maybe
but still there is a joy within me
for the time that we shared
i think of all the words
that we gave each other during the week
the slang
the words for sex
the ones for food and family
i tell myself that hola
is a kind word
but good lord
if adios isn’t the saddest word
in the spanish language.


© John Grochalski


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