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Poems By John Greiner

John Greiner's poetry and fiction has been published in Sensitive Skin, Unarmed, Street Value, Upstairs at Duroc, Poetry City, USA and numerous other magazines. His chapbooks, pamphlets and collections of short stories include Bodega Roses (Good Cop/Bad Cop Press, 2014), Modulation Age (Wandering Head Press, 2012) Shooting Side Glances (ISMs Press, 2011) and Relics From a Hell’s Kitchen Pawn Shop (Ronin Press, 2010).

Trench Coat

In Arizona there are no Gogol overcoats
but once East and up to the city New York
wintertime comes radiator rattling with heat
steam escape wishes from the street iced black and sleek
there is the need for an uncomplicated warmth
while walking
all my winters east with no Arizona December holiday
carols sung out in the desert made lush by man
left me cold with an old East German surplus trench coat
from the no longer this far west remembered
Erich Honecker age
Phoenix abandoned following his brother
came Joshua to the island off the Islands where the
the cripples and the lunatics once roamed
and around which Edgar Allan Poe rowed
there with wind whipping off the waters
he stood slept and longed for April in shirtsleeves
I gave him the coat off my back
since then so many winters and springs have past
and I have been asked by Josh and his bride-to-be Karen
to marry them on the far better Dumbo Brooklyn shore
in Summer downstream from long left behind "Rosie"
already in the wilderness I went online and was ordained
via email in the seminary minutes

Josh Karen best man brother Ryan and me
meet in Sanford's Diner to talk over the ceremony
eat omelets drink beer followed by shots
Ryan suggests we head up the street to the bikini bar
we go but the go-go girls are not yet awake
and so we continue with our walk a few blocks more
while Ryan stays behind standing on the corner waiting
to see what the neighborhood will become
Legend of Kremlin vodka at my apartment
while listening to Boris Gudunov on the radio
this my midnight at midday Karen bids me goodnight
brings Josh back to his feet for the processional farewell
in the bedroom where the blinds block out the sun feebly
I listen to the quiet and touch the steel radiator unused cold
I think of the summer to come their summer of honeymoon
and wonder about all of the winters that have passed
and where the long gray East German trench coat has gone
perhaps it hangs in the back of some closet or on a Salvation Army rack
or lays in a box mothball covered waiting for January's mirth


I've got my faith
and my camel hair coat back
from the drycleaners
there are cries in the wilderness
I mime my half-deaf excuse
I listen closely when I can
pick up tongues on Pentecost
and save wages
for a new flame thrower
to say the least
I've got that old time religion
with all the sacraments
symbols and dark nights
of the soul roads to salvation
my savior's got an Icarus ambition
and dripping candle wax fetish
he's been looking for a big fix all
for some time and can't keep
his anguish to himself
he weeps in the confessional
come subway car
where everyone's got better sins
and show time is about to begin
I've always preferred
the third rate mariachi bands
to the ecstatic dancers
working out their moves
between Queensboro Plaza
and Lexington Avenue
come on
Daedalus' boy needs
to set the score straight
I need that conversion
I've been wasted by this vampire shtick
I make sense of the symbols
put all of my chips on the summer solstice
and finally hit
after a lost five seasons
in nighttime nightmare
with the break of day
a call from the highest heavens
of all these nighttime days
says that I will be missed
but I won't miss any of this
I am so afraid of the dark
of all of the raw sore shadows
who race about raven brilliant
through the pitch black
I can't tolerate closed blinds
in the daytime snuffing out the sun
I can't endure another afternoon
drenched in sweat sleep
I can't stand the school bells ringing
the half-wake fright rattling
up far-off Grade School Days remembrance
backhanded fist flying hard knuckled nuns
Sister I'm going to live in the lustrous hours
not giving a good God damn
about the sanguinary sacrament
I've got a bottle of mezcal to bust open
on this salvation day
no more need to worry about the degradation
drop into the star skies that you can't
even see in this city anyhow
I made my religion
I've arrived at my kingdom come
I've got my resurrection
my soul has been saved

A Lower Eastside Poem

Avenue C mid-week morning
out to lunch Eric Dolphy
so long don't stay over there
too long
I'm gone and all Loisaida
someday will be no more
but for now there's mofongo
Casa Adela and then up
to the Blarney Cove
skip the B to D romance
Iggy Pop
Mink DeVille
I drag along knowing today
I'll not climb up on a
tenement sky
so I slump instead
to a stool shot
and beer bought
the TV tuned to nothing new
which causes consternation
all the same
across the street Stuyvesant town
once meant something
so much more
get rid of the Gaslight
get out of the ghetto
and have a bit of green in between

The Night Watch

Persistent shock of night time present
the future curves back lost
calamity thrill and jubilation grief
thoughts freefall into amnesia
as I grasp at a past pulled in dull hours
at the computer after the daily
accounting has been done
I search out the census records
I settle down to death certificates
I find my father's uncle Clarence
never known
buried in the cemetery long abandoned
the paperwork on his childhood passing
better kept then his tombstone tumbled
I turn up my grandfather a rooming house boarder
I see my father before the war
cheerful child playing out the last days of the Depression
both became gravediggers
I listen to the LPs of my paper route
collection day pay saved up play in the night so far
from Rock 'n Roll ambitions
beneath Marquee Moon
Remain in Light
Velvet Underground
   Lou Reed
New York as the reason for my New York
up to Lexington 1-2-5
down to Union Square
New York as New York

I claw at the dirt
seek out computer screen
I gravedigger
who should have taken up
the pickaxe and shovel sooner
at last to the family tradition
I collect
bones of friends
Adam got lost
at the Holiday Cocktail Lounge
dragged himself drunk
to New Orleans
Patient Zero
who suffered
the final stroke
in San Francisco
bones of childhood taunters
Butch the bully
from Catholic Grade School days
killed in a car crash
on a camping trip
all the dust talk
on Ash Wednesdays
never having been
taken seriously

this the night watch
the audit of ins and outs
apparitions count for more
on empty streets
in vacant rooms
than the concrete corners
where so much time is spent
I step out

Whack-a-Doodle Saturday Night

With the Whack-a-Doodle
subway train Saturday night
come out
you cadaverous once kids
long gone and now lore
cautionary triumphs
this was once a city
come on
fight bone brittle for a seat
fall back fix your make-up
and tomorrow find time for a shave
there are still raves
screams howls soft smiles
disco ball shatters
back up that skull some
and you'll get it
all these sunken ages
make a mythology
fit for the Halloween House of Horrors
Suffolk Street
come out
to play
there's no way
I'm going to go
Coney Island tonight
though I love your pink pumps and red dress
given a wide berth
Whack-a-Doodle cracked
high hand
walks up
forcing the fold
off on the platform
man up
and every
        blurry mind
nuts ain't going to cut it
he the Bedlam royal flush made Bellevue
come out
wherever you are
the right
come fast down
the line
beat the leaps and screams
ride the local
shake erratic flip and split
stay safe someone
said in a faraway memory
still treasured after the plunge
he who knows the way
stays out of the way
steps back
to enjoy the funk in the breeze
see the kid far gone
after the fall
toilet flushed alligators
from Florida vacations
find their way blind-eyed
from sewer to satiate haute
subterranean appetites
and I still have a pocket
full of tokens
of the time
and all God's children got soul thin shoes
for walking
all over God's heaven
and Whack-a-Doodle
came out
all wrong
and moves along
the chorus has got the jitters
ready to jump and whirl
to get out and on the way
I'm with Whack-a-Doodle
if Whack-a-Doodle ain't with me
and there's no worries
with Whack-a-Doodle
Saturday Night Subway train
come on
come out to play
see yourself as the one
the unscathed
even if everyone else is too scared

to say otherwise

This post first appeared on Zombie Logic Review: Poetry For Outsiders And Outl, please read the originial post: here

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Poems By John Greiner


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