Family Night Out
by Andrey Gritsman
A native of Moscow, Andrey Gritsman emigrated to the United States in 1981. He is a physician who is also a poet and essayist. He has published five volumes of poetry in Russian. He received the 2009 Pushcart Prize Honorable Mention XXIII and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize several times (2005 - 2011), and also was on the Short List for PEN American Center Biennial Osterweil Poetry Award. His poems, essays, and short stories in English have appeared or are forthcoming in over 60 literary journals, including Left Curve, Nimrod International Journal, Sanskrit, Blue Mesa, Confrontation, Cimarron Review, Euphony, The Fourth River, Absinthe: New European Writing, Hotel Amerika, Mad Hatter's Review, New Orleans Review, Notre Dame Review, Wisconsin Review, Studio One, Denver Quarterly, Hawaii Review, Hunger Mountain, Permafrost, A Gathering of the Tribes, Poet Lore, Poetry International, Puerto del Sol, Reed Magazine, Richmond Review (London), Fortnight (N. Ireland, UK), Landfall (New Zealand), Ars Interpres (Stockholm, Sweden), The South Carolina Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, Harpur Palate, Tampa Review, Texas Review, Verdad, and The Writer's Chronicle. His work has also been anthologized in Modern Poetry in Translation (UK), Crossing Centuries (New Generation in Russian Poetry), The Breath of Parted Lips: Voices from the Robert Frost Place, Stranger at Home: American Poetry with an Accent, Visions International, and in Killer Verse: Poems on Murder and Mayhem.
He received his MFA in poetry from Vermont College. He runs the Intercultural Poetry Series in a popular literary club, Cornelia Street Café, in New York City. He also edits an international poetry magazine, www.interpoezia.net.
We are sitting in Celeste,
Upper West Side, Italian, moderately priced,
cash only, and my grown-up daughter
in front of me is generously shedding tears
from her huge gray eyes into the pasta special,
$11.99 with shallots. My former wife
on my right, whom I still love,
is dropping tears into the broiled red snapper,
ganged up with my daughter
on that all the men are
scoundrels, idiots and nuts.
I agree readily, sadistically torturing my veal marsala,
washed down with fourth glass of pinot grigio,
looking at my yet relatively innocent son,
as my stepdaughter Polina calls me,
looking for the ladder at home
since our cat got stuck on the roof and is screaming so bad
that the older couple at the table next to us
can hear the cat and
turn their heads indignantly.
My current wife, whom I also love,
at the same time is calling her daughter Polina
on the cell phone, not entirely happy
with the planned roof expedition.
She is stuck on the GW Bridge, invisible
in her Corolla in the gas attack
of the cigarette smoke,
lost in the jungle of huge piles of papers, trash,
large and small brown bags and NPR pontificating.
Still, we make it to the dessert and the girls now
shed tears into fresh tiramisu,
as I keep thinking of my Xanax
in the bathroom closet,
ordering a quadruple decaf espresso.
As we come out on the Columbus,
all weeping, swaying and shaking
after a lovely family dinner
the Other Woman whispers to me from the cloud
hovering over the street:
Andryusha, this is your life,
don't fight destiny.
Destiny takes its own course:
I see that my car has
this nasty orange $150 love letter
from the NYC Traffic Violations Department
and the right side mirror is smashed off
by the garbage truck of the NYC Sanitation Dept.
and my son yells into my ear
over the police siren:
It's OK, Dad, it's New York, Dad. It's OK.
And I think: from the distance
a parking ticket looks like
a large wet autumn maple leaf
stuck to the windshield
so many falls ago.
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