just another old man with a ponytail and a beard in san francisco on a saturday night

just another old man with a ponytail and a beard in san francisco on a saturday night


John Grochalski




they come into vesuvio’s cafe

right after my wife and i order our second beer


otherwise we would’ve left


there are twelve of them

cramped around a table meant for six


they look like a fucked up last supper


or the type of shallow trolls

who have to go out drinking

with their dozen closest friends


it’s saturday night in america

and i’m not made for saturday night anymore


but i’m all the way on the other side of the country

and i feel like i need to get my money’s worth


before it’s vodka on ice in the hotel bed

watching MSNBC and FOX News duke it out for moral supremacy


these apostles are loud and ignorant


the dudes keep screaming “bro”

and the women just scream


there’s a lot of five slapping

and talk about being wasted

and bar hopping or bar crawling

and how they been at it for hours and…bro!


one of the women says, like, this is the bar

where, like, jack kerouac, like, wrote all his poems and novels


not true

…but what’s really true anymore?


besides, no one cares anyway


with fresh five-dollar pints

of anchor steam littering the table

and the next pub already in their line of sight


the truth is relative


when the waitress brings our second round

i ask for the check over the sloppy din


like i’m someone important and have to rush off


and not just another old man

with a ponytail and beard

in san francisco on a saturday night


binging my new pint

like some kind of anxious frat boy


almost choking on the beer

as those kids laugh and scream through their round


kings and queens of the bar


their relevance so glaring and true

that it renders me blind.



John Grochalski is the author of the poetry collections, 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 Philosopher’s Ship (Alien Buddha Press, 2018). He is also the author of the novels, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press 2013), and Wine Clerk (Six Gallery Press 2016). Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, in the part that voted for Trump, so may God have mercy on his soul.

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