Poetry by Tony Gloeggler


Sometimes I get sick
of seeing myself
in my poems, my Brooklyn
accent slurring its way
through every line,
whining about settling
into middle age, mostly
on my own, sometimes
lonely, while mulling over
every thing that’s missing.

I’m tired of song titles,
retards, autistic kids,
old and new girlfriends,
battered valentines, baseball
metaphors, not getting
laid, subway stations,
working class families,
drunk drivers, dead fathers
and every one else who never
try to talk to each other.

I want to open a window,
walk down a fire escape
without waking anyone,
without leaving a note. Walk
into a bank of coastal fog
and disappear. Come out
on the other side, twenty
years younger, go back
to school, get an MFA.

I want to believe in God,
language poetry, the power
of rhyme. Become witty,
clever and vague, cutting,
but sensitive and politically
correct. Wear a frayed
blazer, shave my balls,
smoke cigarettes, get
an ancient Japanese symbol
tattooed to my bicep, stand
around sipping cocktails.

I want to write poems
filled with abstract meaning,
Greek Goddesses, second
generation immigrants
searching for identity,
down to earth lesbians,
World Trade Center
heroes, villains, victims,
all their greedy relatives.

I want to write a sonnet
about a thin woman
viewing a Matisse print
from thirteen different
angles. Write a haiku,
put a bumblebee in it,
the sound its wings make
brushing a fucking tulip.

I want to open my mail
to submission requests
from the New Yorker
and Poetry. Act humble
when nominations, awards
roll in. Put my agent
on hold. Teach at summer
conferences. Sell more books
than Billy Collins and Jewel
combined. And when I die,
bored, tortured school kids
will be forced to recite
my poems during
National Poetry Month.

This poem originally appeared in The New York Quarterly.


It was the Sunday
my father felt strong
enough to get out
of bed, take baby steps
to the bathroom. He fumbled
with buttons, tugged the top
over his head, unsnapped
his bottoms and let them
glide down his legs. Crouched

like a catcher, I untangled
his pajamas, removed
his slippers as he sat
down to piss. I ran
the bathwater, tested it,
turned on the shower.
He grabbed my arm, leaned
on the sink and lifted
himself to his feet, stepped
into the tub. The water
hit his neck, rolled
off his shoulders. I watched
his eyes shut, lips
part and whisper sighs

soft as first kisses brushed
on park benches. I lathered
up the sponge, scrubbed
his back. When water
splashed my glasses, soaked
my clothes, I stripped
down to boxers, stepped
in with him and walked
all the way back to Brooklyn:

My father crosses Stockholm Street
carrying his tools. He straddles
the Johnny Pump, pulls,
bangs and yanks until
water explodes, roars out
of the hydrant’s mouth
and the block of kids cheer
like he’s some God
sending down rain. Afraid
of slipping, he turned
slowly, gripping my shoulders.
I took my time, soaped
under his arms, between

his legs. When I stood,
he pulled me close, tightened
his arms around me, kissed
my neck. I tried not to cry
when he said he could stay
like this forever, stay
until he died, until
the hot water got cold.

This poem originally appeared in Bottomfish.


About Tony Gloeggler

Tony Gloeggler is a native of New York City and currently manages a group home for developmentally disabled men in Brooklyn. His work has been in numerous journals, including Washington Square, Poet Lore, Rattle, West Branch, and Ted Kooser chose one of his poems for his American Life In Poetry newspaper feed from Paterson Literary Review. His chapbook, ONE ON ONE, received the 1998 Pearl Poetry Prize, and ONE WISH LEFT, a full-length collection that went into a second edition, was initially published by Pavement Saw Press in 2000. TONY GLOEGGLER’S GREATEST HITS came out via Pudding House Publications in 2009 and in 2010, THE LAST LIE was published by NYQ Books.