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SHJ Issue 17
Fall 2017

A Good Bad Day

by Tony Gloeggler

John walks slowly up the stairs
to my office every day. Between
four and four-thirty, after the bus
brings him home from day program
and after he uses the bathroom,
he says, “Oh, hello, Tony,” as if
he’s surprised to find me
sitting at my desk. He says
he had a good day, stands 
by a chair, and after six years
of living at the residence,
his home, he still hesitates,
wonders if he needs permission
to sit down. I don’t give it,
wait until he sits on his own.
He tells me if he read or painted,
exercised or sang today and I ask
questions as if I was his mother.
Maybe he went to a park, a store,
the library. All along he wears 
this pleasant, half smiling,
perfectly balanced, zen-like gaze
across his Fred Flintstone face
and I don’t know if I’m stressed
or bored, mean, or just a smart-ass
acting like we are friends;
but when he asks me about my day
sometimes I tell him the truth.

Uselessly endless meetings, piles
of paper work, asshole administrators.
Not enough sleep. Girlfriend trouble. 
Yesterday, I told him that a woman
I loved is getting married on a boat
in September and I wished 
I owned a torpedo. He didn’t say 
anything, just sat there smiling
and I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help it,
I had to ask him if he ever
had a bad day. When he said no,
none that he could remember,
I said are you sure. He said
I don’t think so and looked like
he was thinking hard. I leaned
forward, said that I felt very sad
when my father died and I wondered
how he felt when his mom and dad
passed away. John jutted out his chin,
looked beyond me and said yeah
that was a bad day. When I asked
if he missed them, he chewed
on his lips, said sometimes,
and I said I know what you mean.


—Previously published in Rattle online (24 January 2010); appears here with author’s permission

SHJ Issue 17
Fall 2017

Tony Gloeggler

is a life-long resident of New York City. His work has recently appeared in The Examined Life, New Ohio Review, Chiron Review, Rattle, The Raleigh Review, and Pittsburgh Poetry Review. His books include One Wish Left (Pavement Saw Press, 2002) and The Last Lie (NYQ Books, 2010). Until The Last Light Leaves (NYQ Books, 2015), a finalist in the 2016 Binghamton University Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award, focuses on his connection to an ex-girlfriend’s autistic son and his 35 years of managing group homes for the mentally challenged in Brooklyn.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury