May 28, 2014

Tony Gloeggler

1969

My brother enlisted
in the winter. I pitched
for the sixth-grade Indians
and coach said
I was almost as good
as Johnny. My mother
fingered rosary beads,
watched Cronkite say
and that’s the way it is.
I smoked my first
and last cigarette. My father
kept his promise,
washed Johnny’s Mustang
every weekend. Brenda Whitson
taught me how to French kiss
in her basement. Sundays
we went to ten o’clock Mass,
dipped hands in holy water,
genuflected, walked down
the aisle and received
Communion. Cleon Jones
got down on one knee, caught
the last out and the Mets
won the World Series.
Two white-gloved Marines
rang the bell, stood
on our stoop. My father
watched their car
pull away, then locked
the wooden door. I went
to our room, climbed
into the top bunk,
pounded a hard ball
into his pillow. My mother
found her Bible, took
out my brother’s letters,
put them in the pocket
of her blue robe. My father
started Johnny’s car,
revved the engine
until every tool
hanging in the garage
shook.

from Rattle #25, Summer 2006
Tribute to the Best of Rattle

[download audio]

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Tony Gloeggler: “I’m not sure I ever wanted to be a writer or poet—in most ways I feel poetry is elitist and no one I grew up with or work with reads it and too often I can’t convince myself that they’re missing something important. I think writing poetry is just another of those things that always makes me feel like I don’t quite fit in. Like when I was a four-year-old and wore this big heavy leg brace and a huge Frankenstein boot on the other or when I was a superstar schoolyard jock with hair down to my ass or when I was a long hair and never touched any drugs or when I’m the only Caucasian in the group home where I work or I’m a poet who perfectly understands why hardly anyone reads poetry or needs to. Still, I write poetry and it matters a lot to me. I write for myself, though I would love to have a lot of people read my work. But mostly I feel at home when I’m writing, like I’m doing one of the things I’m supposed to do and when I get it right, when a poem is done and I can tell it’s good, well, it just lifts me. It makes me fool myself into believing that I was the only one who could do this, make this poem, and it’s one of those times when sticking out or standing out is all good.” (website)