Robert, from Alcoholics Anonymous by Joseph Hargraves

every time I looked at him I wanted to
punch him in the fucking face
now here I am talking on the phone
to the son of a bitch and he’s telling me
he likes anal sex: "to get it" he’s saying
and I have a hard-on wondering if I
would do it with him or not
but I’m telling him it’s great
he stopped drinking and goes to A.A.
as if I have some fucking duty
to sober up the God-damned world
and he’s asking my advice:
should he quit his job or not
and I’m telling him "one day at a time,"
"easy does it" and my hand is in my zipper
reaching into my boxers and he’s telling me
how spiritual I am and I’m going up
and down with my right fist
holding the phone with my left
and talking about God
and he’s saying how nice I really am
how people have me wrong
how he did too and his voice
makes me harder than I already am
I say thank you with a tremor in my voice
he’s saying "it’s hard for you
to get close to people isn’t it?
and I spasm and drop the phone
and hear him saying
"you’re such a good person"
as I hang up the phone.


Poetess said...

I'm not sure if I should be appalled at this; but it made me laugh, a little too much. Good poem. I think I might even go to AA for material for my own poems. Thanks for being evil and funny and a good writer. Poetess

Anonymous said...

joseph - great poem as usual. i love the way you put things into words. your friend, caroline

Anonymous said...

I've re-read this poem many times. Joe Hargraves surprised me exploring - and exploiting - the differences between what people say and what people think.
With concision, with unseemly parallels, narrator and subject are held in a balance of anti hero and anti hero!
The craft is good too: he sticks to the incident and his words are no accident, no simple three card monty syntactical switch. Apt, alert, and alive with the awareness of what most people would prefer to forget.
A. Holbrook

F.A. Pollard said...

This is one of my favorites by Joseph Hargraves. I can see it very well, and I like the honesty of the narrator (and in fact, the narrator himself) as he is saying one thing, doing another, and telling us both. Such a human poem.


About Me

Black-Listed Magazine is an online literary magazine. We publish on a rolling basis: weekly, daily, sometimes hourly. Send submissions here: