sunday night tough guy jamboree at the old root down tavern, poetry by John Grochalski

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September 8, 2015 by RJ

one tough guy comes into the bar
he starts pacing back and forth and then he leaves

my wife says, i don’t like the look of him

all people look bad when you give them
more than a glance, i tell her

the tough guy comes back with two tough guy friends
making three tough guys pacing
at the old root down tavern on a sunday night

he goes over to the bartender
and says, hey man, who was your bartender on friday night?

the bartender is reluctant to answer
but in the end tells the tough guy that it was seth

why do you want to know? he asks

because he man-handled me, man, the tough guys says

his two tough guy friends start nodding
they look around the bar just in case people start getting any ideas

look at my neck, man, the tough guys say
he puts down his collar and the bartender barely looks

did you see it? did you see what he did, man?

i don’t see shit, the bartender says

see, i told you that i didn’t
like the way he looks, my wife says

you have a very keen eye and discerning taste, i tell her
as the tough guy continues arguing with the bartender

i’m pissed, he says
i want that motherfucker fired

the tough guys looks around the bar
his eyes meet the row of mugs and pints drying on the rack
man, i could’ve smashed this place up, he says
i could smash it up right now

that’s when some of the tough guys
who are regulars in the bar get up

they stand behind the tough guy and his friends

the bartender has his hand underneath the bar
there’s a bat under there, a knife

at one time seth told us there was a gun

it’s a regular ol’ sunday night tough guy jamboree
at the old root down tavern

are you threatening me? the bartender asks

i’m just saying, the tough guy say
as his tough guy friends start pulling him out of the bar

he heard what you said, the bartender says
he points to a regular

and so did he

i heard what he said, too, i tell the bartender

and so did this guy, the bartender shouts

on his way out of the bar
the tough guys leans in and screams in my ear
i don’t give fuck what you heard!

as his buddies carry him out in to the sopping wet night
but not before he leans back in the bar and shouts


like all tough guys have
down throughout the centuries

when they are finally safe and free
in the open air.


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