Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over eight hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize for work published in 2012, 2013, and 2014. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical
psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. He lives in Denver.
When I was a boy I milked the goat. My mother did it until she died, but she died quite young in a rock slide at the edge of our village, where we lived.
The Statue of Liberty turned gray like a piece of shrapnel, shrapnel a German word.
My village’s only common property is a single pistachio tree that belongs in a nursing home, but we give her twenty-four-hour care in the spot in which she has always stood.
One day I saw an old man with Alzheimer’s get bit by a rattler in his front yard.
The Statue turned black, a strip of steak forgotten on the grill.
We live on a diet of thistle stems and burdock roots, and thus we have all begun to hallucinate.
I saw a freckled kid swing on an old tire. Rope gives way and he falls, breaks his leg.
The children are dead or dying, but we see them playing.
I watch both events from my kitchen window.
The Specialist was on her way. I was going to meet her in the Staten Island Ferry terminal. She had a medical degree from Johns Hopkins and was also a Christian Scientist. She was going to explain how I could end my suffering.
A pistachio is a sacrament, the shell His body, the nut His blood.
I put the first few squirts in a bowl for the cat, who ran up and greedily lapped. At these times, Nicholas and Alexandra, my Toulouse Geese, sometimes looked at each other. Then Nicholas stole forward and bit the cat on the base of her tail. She jumped as if electrified.
After I moved to the desert, I built a shack and diminished my thirst to the water I could squeeze from rocks.
On the same day, I saw bees burn with false sweetness and I saw my fat, slovenly sister stand in front of the cemetery and eat a gallon of Rocky Road ice cream out of the container all by herself.
The geese laughed at the cat.
The cacti thanked me for not sacrificing them to meet my own needs.
There’s always another way than exploitation, I told them, and though I refused their warm embraces, we melded.
So I knew early on that animals have a sense of humor and I figured out one day that if they have a sense of humor, they have a sense of tragedy and if they have a sense of tragedy, they have souls.
I wrote on the walls of my shack. I’d figured I had the space for a novella. I wrote with a cactus spine and India Ink and used a magnifying glass to keep my script legible. It took me several years to complete it and, when it was done, I had a party with my friends, the lizards, scorpions, and horned toads. While I was out, the ants arranged their bodies into five stars on the warped floor boards, an artistic triumph in its own right. The ants crawled on the walls, reading slowly, reading and re-reading. I have had no human readers, but one day a human woman will appear. I have seen her in my dream. She is a former Pennsylvania steelworker with a square jaw and, fortunately, very good eyesight.
And they suffer. I took my geese to church one day, but the priest yelled at me and kicked us out.
I go to the Arches and stand under a rock arch worth millions of tons of rock and think: Is this the day this arch gives way? It never has, but on one day I saw an old man snake-bit and a swing give way, kid break his leg.