Wisdom, Trumpet and other poems

by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois



Madame Armadillo has four children
North, South, East, West
The sun rises in the east
and sets in the west
on the Father, Son, Holy Ghost, and Holy Criminal
Nothing new

I lay in bed
my head to the North
feet to the South
Wisdom is easy
if you don’t add complications

I’m awoken by the sound of trumpets
coming in my glassless windows
A mosquito is sucking on my eyeball
I swat it
but make things worse
Wisdom is easy
if you don’t add complications

One of my wives calls me for coffee
My other wife is frying eggs
and drawing pictures on flour tortillas
with magic markers
One of the tortillas has
my name on it
written in Spanish
She’s misspelled my middle name
like this: Crack-Malnick
It doesn’t matter how many times I tell her
I don’t smoke Crack anymore
she keeps tormenting me

Sometimes she writes: Meth-Malnick
I tell her I’ve never done Meth
and don’t intend to start
even though her brother is cooking it
out in the desert

My first wife tries to look severe at my second wife
but can’t keep up the pretense
They drink tequila from the bottle as they finish my breakfast
It takes two women to make my breakfast
Wisdom is easy
if you don’t add complications


Orgasm has coated me
like non-stick oil sprayed on a pan
like egg yolks
on a rare foggy morning
I cannot open my eyes
don’t want to either

even though it is the first day of
the Fiesta of the Sacred Cross
and I am the star trumpet player
in this village
The call me El Krochmalniko

When I was a child
my father beat me
because I refused to learn to play the accordion
his favorite instrument
He couldn’t play it anymore
because a drug cartel
chopped off one of his hands

I didn’t like it
It was too heavy
It hung from my shoulders
like the Titanic
threatening to take me down
to the bottom of the desert

He beat me for my obstinance
I picked up my trumpet
and sent a blast to his
cauliflower ear
then ran like hell
never stopped running
til I arrived in this town
with its sculptures of Los Muertos

My father is dead now
I did not go to his funeral
I am alive
I spit on his accordion
I raise the trumpet to my lips
and send a blast out my bedroom window
over the pigs
and chickens
into the village
an announcement
like those Arab mullahs in their towers

It is the Fiesta of the Sacred Cross
Everyone get out of bed!
Get up!
Join me for a drink
Then I’ll raise the horn to my lips
and won’t put it down
until my lips are bruised and bloody
and I can no longer play
and the village worships me
as a martyr

Metal Horn

My horn is made of metal
and comes from Chicago
How it got down here
I have no idea
How does anything get down here?
How did I get down here?
Life is not what we were taught
in the School of Rational Living

That school was a monster hoax
The Universe is irrational
and so am I
So are you
and so are the twisted words that
run between us
and so is the music that pours from my horn

but the irrationality is beautiful
so you light a joint and
kiss your woman
and sway to the smog
and crime and luck

With Nine Bands

Nine-Banded Armadillo
slipped over borders
during His Holy Migration

From South America
through the Isthmus
over peso’d avenidas
sidestepping Los Muertos
finally across the U.S. border
on His way to becoming sacred

The Supreme One
was never detained
never asked for documents

The Sacred Armadillo left
claw prints in the dust
as He made His silent
stealthy uninterrupted journey north
ever north and east

The last of the
New World armored mammals
to survive,
His survival was not a prerequisite
for sacredness
only a foundation

He bore a vague nostalgia for his extinct kin
the New World Sloths and Anteaters
an undefined sadness
the sadness of the planet
as another door closes
and a substitute
fails to open

The Sacred Armadillo
trekked across the Arizona desert
peered down into the Grand Canyon
and the mile wide crater created
by one angry meteor
stumbled mindlessly across huge tracks of Texas

skirted the bayous of Louisiana
had tribal pow-wows with the giant bayou rats
known as Nutria
with whom He developed spiritual and political confederacies
and crossed the sand hills and wiregrass
of Alabama

In the Florida panhandle He feasted on fire ants
whose spice complements peanuts
collard greens and other Southern delicacies
favored by both the possum and Himself

It was a Holy Feast
a last supper
the last performance
of a famous garage duo
this time with no audience
no groupies
no drugs
the last hurrah for the one who goes
and the one who’s left behind

The possum thrust out his snout
ever angry
and cursed his own lack of holiness
The Sacred Armadillo
quietly left the backyard
cut across a strip of woods
behind the used car dealership
and moved on

Not a Chair Misplaced

Not a crumb of bread anywhere
nor a misplaced grape nut
not a red grape escaped from
a still life
with apples and oranges

Everything is in its place
awaiting the death of the human
who lives in this mausoleum

The television is tuned
to CNN
in perpetuity

The news unspools,
the tragedies
the human interest
the same loop of platitudes
linked to different faces and different names
interspersed with commercials
for all the things you’re too old to buy

because that thread has also unspooled
You know none of it will
make you happy
Some famous person gives their name
and says: This is CNN
Another celebrity does the same
They line up to have CNN
tattooed on their wrists

I think I’m going to visit my ex-wife
She lives in an apartment building
not far from here
another Section 8 building
nothing we ever lusted after
but these places aren’t bad

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Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over six hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad, including IN OTHER WORDS: MERIDA. 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.

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art by Kreso Cavlovic


Boz and A Song for Everything

by Jane Gilday


sunday morning feels like home warm in bed beloved gospel truth sings boz the lovely
emptiness of winter sun through time-spun window glass and fragrance of fresh-sliced apples
in an old chipped dish mom gave ya years ago, dish & apples on a pine kitchen table top,
bells ring down the lane somewheres, a cat pads thru the room, everybody purrs like family



i sing a song for everything
oh i love who i hate
and i abstain from what i ate
late last night and just this morning
as the gloaming was returning
to the frolic for abstainers
where the servants boss retainers
and do i look like an explainer?
well i’m not but know a major
who’s a miner on the side
when not shopping for the glamour
tho it’s tough because she stammers
with a diction so precise
it’s understood by mice and men
men who wonder where it came from
tho it’s marked ‘not all american’
like songs for everything
where freedom sometimes cringes
by amazon’s red glare
oh gee i really love your hair
did you have it done by sally
grandpa snuck her thru the alley
as the cats played trumpet riddles
where the dogs like moons a little
birds like bees and honey
and too soon someday the planters
start to tango in pajamas
’cause the orbits got all mangled
in the hospital of wealth
as the nurses practice stealth
on account of all the clerics
and most of them named yorick
due to wandering the steppes,
yes all twelve, but i repent
and return anew to singing
endless songs of endless sings
and if i lisped i’d thing of things.


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Jane Gilday is an artist, poet and musician who lives in Pennsylvania. Her artist statement: “jane gilday is 8 years old and likes to color”

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Queen of Hearts/Dog King

(acrylic and interference – pearlescent – metallic – irridescent – rhoplex mediums on canvas

by Jane Gilday


I Asked For A Word And She Sent Me Pelican and Ten Years Ago at the Tate

by Gillian Nevers


I Asked For A Word And She Sent Me Pelican.

How was she to know two days ago
I stood on a bridge spanning the Fox River
watching white pelicans ride thermals,
like hawks. Below a group gathered on cold water,
dipping their heads below the wintry surface,
fishing for gizzard shad and emerald shiners.

I’m used to pelicans in hot climates.
Brown birds flying in formation, low-gliding
birds swooping over sun-sparkling water.
Squadrons of them skimming over
the Caribbean. Brown pelicans rising,
falling in rhythm with waves, plunge-
diving beneath the surface, surfacing,
small stunned fish filling their pouches.


Ten Years Ago at the Tate

Enchanted by Millais’ Ophelia
floating into oblivion, her hair
fanning gold and red in the current,
evanescent in sunlight, soft rose
blushing her pale cheeks, and I—
so in love with the idea of her
singing herself to death, so caught
in a stream of romance—missed
other rooms: Turner.
Sea-scapes. Storm-scapes.
Blacks and purples swirling
grays, skies brewing stirring
wildness. Whirlwinds of light.
Clouds more golden.

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Gillian Nevers, Madison, Wisconsin, became a “serious” poet in 2002. Since then, her poems have appeared in several online and print publications. Her poem, “Playing for Keeps,” won second prize in the 2008 Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters statewide poetry contest. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2011. In addition to writing poetry, Nevers is the membership coordinator for the Wisconsin Fellowship of poets and writes the Markets column for the WFOP’s Museletter. She also teaches poetry to elementary school children and poetry, fiction and non-fiction to adults for Road Scholars. For several years Nevers has collaborated with the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art organizing poetry readings in the galleries.
A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Art Education, Nevers had a long career working with victims of crime. Since her retirement in 2000, she has coordinated an annual conference for two national crime victim associations — a part-time job that she continues to retire from but somehow manages to sign up for “just one more year.” Why not? She gets to spend time in a different, interesting city every year, catch up with former colleagues, and still have time to write.
Every March for over twenty years Nevers and her husband have spent two to three weeks in the Yucatan. She can usually be found in the quiet beachside community of Puerto Morelos, but, every so often will take a side trip to Valladolid and Merida.

Silk Road
Miller’s Pond
Wisconsin People and Ideas
Pierenes Fountain
California Quarterly
Verse Wisconsin
Oak Bend Review
Right Hand Pointing
Architrave Press
Merida Review
Echolocations: Poets Map Madison

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photograph by Angela M Campbell


She Didn’t Love Me as Me, Instead She Loved the Writer

by Fernando Izaguirre

She Didn’t Love Me As Me,
Instead She Loved The Writer

She didn’t love me as me,
Instead she loved the writer

Who wrote her poems
About love—sickening the young
And curing the old.

She didn’t love me as me,
Instead she loved the writer

Who wrote her poems
About— the waves kissing
The shore,

And buttering her feet
With salt.

She didn’t love me as me,
Instead she loved the writer

Who wrote her poems
About— swimming naked
in the fresh blue waters

Of Cancún,

And letting the sun
Ripple through her

watered skin.

She didn’t love me as me,
Instead she loved the writer

Who wrote her poems
About— dancing to
Buoyant music in a

Strapless dress

And letting a man
Touch her milky thighs.

She didn’t love me as me
Instead she loved the writer

Who wrote her poems
About— exploring the
Depths of his heart

With her acrobatic fingers
And resting them on his chest.

Which made it clear that
She didn’t love me as me
Instead she loved the writer.


I Fell in Love with a Russian Girl

The Russian girl across the classroom
Reminds of the clouds that skate
Across the sky.

I lost myself in her eyes that dazzled me
Like fireworks thundering and clapping
In the air.

I love the way her pale skin creams up
Against the chair she sits in and the
Way her lips touch the end of her pencil.

She is silent on most days but that
Strings me towards her even more.

And if this poem ever finds her lap
The nothing else matters but the way
Her fingers blush and tickle the ends
Of this precious gift.

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Fernando Rafael Izaguirre, Jr., was born in 1993. He is an Honors student at Lee College in Baytown, Texas, majoring in English. His poetry, essays, and articles have appeared in various online and print magazines such as The Ofi Press, Weber State University Metaphor, and the Rio Grande Review. Fernando plans to obtain a Masters Degree in creative writing at the University of Houston. Eloquence is his first collection of poetry, has been released in September of 2014 by Editorial Trance. Poetry lovers can purchase his book on amazon and other outlets. He is currently working on his second poetry collection.

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photo by Kristi Harms



by Judith Steele

A priest in white robes lives in a lofty cool temple. Outside is a desert, red sand dunes, sky solid blue. The priest stands at the arched exit of the temple, strains his eyes, sees sand and sky, black shadows. Are they shadows of people? He hears screams, or is it laughter? Not for the first time, he wishes for the courage to go out. But he thinks: Is it a laugh or a scream? He retreats into the safety of the temple.

Bird song from trees in the castle garden. A woman in soft gowns and floating veils, day after day protected and sheltered by riches not hers, her only wealth her potential to produce a male heir. Her absent lord married her for just that purpose, but she has failed him. Every day she smiles at everyone, sitting with her useless beauty in the walled garden.

Twenty uniformed men crouching in wet grass in the mist on the top of a hill, watching four stone buildings at the bottom of the valley. Inside the stone buildings are twenty men wearing a different uniform. Sentries stand at the doorways to watch the hilltop. Not long after dawn, some men of one uniform or the other will possess the territory of these stone buildings. Not long after dawn, some men of both uniforms will be dead. The soldiers of both uniforms wait for dawn, hoping their obedience will outlast their fear.

Cherry works in an office, the only female in a hush-hush job, between two wars. She wears a sober dark suit, red red lips, takes pride in her work, her life fulfilled. Something happens, a slip-up by someone too important to take the blame. Someone has to take the blame. Cherry is not supporting a wife or children. Cherry can retire to the country they say, with her dear old parents. She understands, she is not one of the boys. She packs up her desk, walks sedately and obediently from the office. In the corridor she screams. And screams. And screams. Inside the office, the men wait for her to stop.

Every day the child tries to find the way to please the mother. Every night when the father comes home the mother whispers to him, and the father shouts at the child. When the mother is sick and the father is absent, the uncle comes and takes the child into her bedroom and shuts the door and the child thinks she is being punished for making her mother sick and her father absent, and thinks when she has finished being punished, it will all end.

She is silent and waits for dawn. She smiles meaninglessly in paralysed obedience. She forgets. With whatever cunning the brain has to hide events. If not feelings. She becomes a
loudmouthed rebel, a catastrophic risk-taker, dangerous to everyone and herself. The intelligence she has produces nothing.

One day she remembers. With whatever treachery the brain has to store what it has hidden; and to produce it at an unknown signal from parallel events, words, feelings, appearances. She is paralysed by fear. She retreats to silence. She wants to break it, to walk in the open, to have the courage to speak, or simply to scream. Will she?


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Judith Steele is Australian. Her poetry has appeared in Northern Territory and South Australian publications including Northern Perspective, Northerly, Dymocks Northern Territory Literary Awards, Friendly Street Poets. Poetry or prose has appeared on websites including The Animist, Four and Twenty, Islet Online (as Dita West), In other Words:Merida .

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painting by Skot Horn