keystone cops

fred has us stationed
throughout the place like secret agents

dolores in the dvd aisle
her eyes shifting from left to right

me in a chair hidden
behind two racks of romance novels

stealing glances
at the teenage latina girl
bent over in the graphic novel section

front and center

steely eyed
like dirty harry

we look more like keystone cops
than federal agents

i mean the guy we’re watching
he’s eighty years-old

and i don’t rightfully give a fuck
if he’s robbing us

taking the random dvd or paperback
and then hustling out into the street

i plan on doing a lot worse
if i make it to eighty

plus it isn’t my shit that he’s taking
down with the corporate entity, i think

but there we all are
like a navy seal team

ready to strike
ready to manhandle this ancient bastard

shake him down
until all of those bogart films
fall onto the floor

and the brad thor novels
are safe and back on the shelf

what fun

it’s almost too much excitement
for a tuesday afternoon

the old guy is on to us anyway

he keeps looking at fred
looking at dolores faking it
with those season of mad men and adam sandler films

he’s looking at me
looking at the latina girl’s thong
poking out of her tight gray jeans

he knows that the fix is in
that the big score ain’t going down today

so he puts the novel back
waves at fred before casually strolling
out the door into the cool october air

his sneakers squeaking like an outlaw’s spurs

leaving the rest of us
with nothing but the rest of the day to kill

before we go home
to cop shows and typical american violence

what little hubris we had
killed by car commercials
the neighbor’s dog

the red light of the waiting alarm clock.

* * * * *

John Grochalski is the author of 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), and the novel, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press 2013).  Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he constantly worries about the high cost of everything.