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Tony Gloeggler: Cheez-Its

When the guy sitting next to me 

realizes the stewardess gave him 

the last pack of CHEEZ-ITS, he takes 

his head-set off, offers me a few. 

He was listening to Yo La Tengo 

and I was in the middle of Dylan’s 

Series of Dreams. He saw Bob

with his parents when he was ten

and didn’t know anything about 

his music. I moved my hands like 

Father Cunningham in the confessional, 

forgave him. Visiting college friends 

in Burlington, he’s hoping for snow, 

some skiing. I’m spending the weekend 

with Jesse, my sort of step son. When 

I get to the severely autistic part,

he doesn’t bend his head to the side, 

wince in a combination of pain and pity 

like some people do. He nods his head 

and his eyes widen as this beatific smile 

glistens across his face, as if he’s come 

across his first living, breathing saint.


I could tell him how good it feels 

when Jesse opens the door, smiles,

and skips as if he would have died

if I knocked later than three thirty, 

how everything is clear, completely 

understood throughout our visit, 

what and when we’ll do things 

written down like a map to treasure.

We ride the bus to Starbucks, dine

at the same restaurant. Delighted 

by cars driving alongside, the sights 

we pass, people getting off and on,

he hums two word phrases, pops out 

a burst of laughter now and again. 

He orders apple juice with ice, chicken 

fingers, French fries, extra hot.

He makes a wounded bird sound 

if we have to sit at the bar, wait 

for a table, or the waitress brings 

his apple juice a bit too slowly

and he’ll always send his food back 

if he needs it  more hot please now.


For three days, two nights, it’s easy, 

simple really, to leave myself behind,

the nonsense that usually bends 

my thoughts with worry, doubt. 

If Jesse was sitting next to me 

instead of this philosophy professor 

from Rutgers I could ask Jesse for a few 

more CHEEZ-ITS and he’d tell me 

the truth, answer no, or one more,

that’s it. I wouldn’t wonder if only 

a greedy bastard like me would grab 

the last one. I tell Phillip no thanks, 

wave it off, when he extends the bag

my way and I decide not to say

anything else about me and Jesse.

I won’t challenge the image of autism

tattooed into his brain and like everyone

who has nothing to do with it, he’ll never 

understand it. But really, nobody does 

anyway. Besides, I don’t mind being 

his idea of a good person for the rest 

of the flight. Three days, two nights, 

one weekend a month, it’s a blessing 

to know I can help make someone 

I love so easily happy. Too busy,

too focused to question why that 

never happens with anyone else.

Copyright 2022 Tony Gloeggler. First published in Crab Creek Review.

Tony Gloeggler, a life-long resident of New York City, has managed group homes for the mentally challenged for over 35 years. His poetry collections include What Kind Of Man (NYQ Books, 2020).

Cheez-It Crackers

6 comments on “Tony Gloeggler: Cheez-Its

  1. Fred Shaw
    May 4, 2022

    Wonderful work w/ lots of heart. Keep em coming

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Gerald Fleming
    May 3, 2022


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Janice Falls
    April 28, 2022

    What a gift, both to experience this ‘autistic joy’ and to express it so eloquently, thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. justblog07
    April 28, 2022

    Great scenario depicted and those cheese its or cruchy biscuits are just amzinggg 😊😊

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Sean sexton
    April 28, 2022

    Love the poem!
    Thankyou Tony and Michael.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on April 28, 2022 by in Health and Nutrition, Poetry, Social Justice and tagged , , , , .

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