Encyclopedia and other poems

by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois



Juan Pio Periz
finished the eight volume
Encyclopedia Yucatanense
completing the work
Father Pedro Beltran had labored over
for decades

Father Beltran had willed himself to stay alive
until he finished his labors
but did not succeed in this
partly because he was divided against himself
at least sometimes against himself
at the best of times ambivalent

Father Beltran was half man/half dog
but because he always wore a wide-brimmed hat
and his face and head were mostly human
and also his hands
he was able to keep the dog part of him
under his robe

until after his death
when his secret was discovered

His secret wife was half reptile/half bird
and spent most of her life
lounging among rocks

but did not have responsibilities
other than to Father Beltran
so hiding who she was
was not difficult


Anthony of Padua
the patron saint of marriage
carries baby Jesus with him
like a football
tucked firmly in the crook of his arm

He constantly feels a failure
So much marital maladjustment
So much divorce

The Mayan God of Bees
constantly criticizes him
but Anthony has a come-back
He angrily asks why the bees are dying off

The Mayan God of Bees
who is
in the large sense
a climate change denier
also denies the bees’ imminent demise
(if the bees go extinct, he will be unemployed)
and Anthony argues that marriage is still viable
Do you see how gays are fighting for the right?
Fighting for the right to be miserable,
says the God of Bees


With my flat forehead and crossed eyes
I am the most beautiful woman on the planet

My parents practiced cranial deformation
and also, early on
started me in the practice of
cultivating a convergent gaze
which is also a form of meditation
so I am not only alluring
I am enlightened

Dental mutilation has given me
a unique smile
and finally
body paint adorns my ample flesh

I am aware of the characterless anorexics
that the enslaved Norte Americanos worship
in their machine empire
and I feel sorry for them
They are static while I
easily move from the earthly level
to the divine
and back again

The gods made several attempts to create
the human being
and with me
their efforts
ended in triumph


It’s mean to say:
That chick’s so fat she’s got her own zip code
but I’m sitting in my Studebaker
outside the Chase Bank
on Oracle Street in Tucson
waiting for my old lady to come back
from exchanging

when this enormously fat white woman walks by
right in front of me
past the twin ATM’s
where the brick wall says: Chase What Matters

She turns and walks up the pebbled slope
to the bank’s glass doors
and I see the tattoo on her upper back:
Damn if she doesn’t really have her own zip code!

She pulls open the glass door and struts into the bank
as if she’s about to rob it

I ask myself: Is that really her personal zip
or is it something she shares with others?
so I punch the numbers into my i-phone
It’s the zip code for LaBobo Bankurung, Indonesia

My Dentist, My Lover

Even on Thanksgiving
my lover harangues me about my teeth
and gums
about Acid Erosion
and Periodontal Disease
Baby, you’re way beyond gingivitis, she says

Her concern is understandable
She’s not only my lover
she’s also my dentist
She “sexually assaulted” me
on my first visit to her office
while she had me helpless on nitrous oxide
I knew that cocaine enhanced the joy of sex
but I’d never realized that the same was true
for nitrous

This woman, my dentist, my girlfriend
is eleven years older than me
and sometimes I catch her examining herself
in the mirror
with a worried expression
She thinks I’ll stop loving her
as she ages
as wrinkles appear
and the flesh on her arms gets loose
She works out with dumbbells as we
watch TV in the evening
I think she’s gotten stronger than me
but I’m hesitant to test it out

But she’s right:
my gums and teeth are a mess
Maybe she’ll stop loving me if I don’t consent
to expensive and painful treatment
But I guess I’ll take the chance

* * * * * * * * * * * *

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.

* * * * * * * * * * * *


painting by Skot Horn


Body & String Beans

by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois



The body of the Yucatecan woman
is blue
and like a wheelbarrow
or a table

I embrace her body
Her womb is the source
of multiplication and astronomy
I embrace the trunk that supports
the tree

The maize of the tortillas she is kneading
turns her fingers yellow-tan
her wrists
her forearms

but her upper arms stay blue
like the sky lighting the morning
when birds come to drink from the pool
and iguanas quickly nod their heads
in prayer to the god of sex—

They are so lonely
so stoic
they have forgotten their stoicism

They are unconscious of their morality
as the Yucatecan woman
is unconscious of hers

She is short
she is broad
she is blunt

Blue is peace
maize is peace
her fingers shape the tortillas

Her ankles are thick
her shoulders rounded
The twinkle is so deep in her eye
it cannot be seen by others
or herself
There is no mirror

She doesn’t worry about love anymore
All her loved ones were
crucified on the swords of the henequen plant
that were woven into rope

but for every loved one enslaved
and murdered by a hacienda owner
and the American capitalist
investing his enterprise
seven more spring into being
immaculately conceived
sons of God
free of hate
or desire for vengeance

Their bodies are like wheelbarrows
or tables
They roll down paths
support simple feasts

String Beans

Her breasts are small
her belly flat
Birds flutter around her
as she plays her wooden flute

Her multi-colored clothes are flags
that flutter in the breeze

Her sister pities her
Her sister wants everything
She doesn’t want everything
Everything would be too much to bear

She plays her flute
Birds flutter around her
She sells string beans in the farmers’ market
They are long and green and bumpy
and when she’s not playing her flute
she examines them
She wants to learn them thoroughly
Customers are drawn by her flute’s melodies

She refuses to sell her sister any string beans
If her sister had some of her string beans
her sister would have everything
and her life would collapse under the weight

so even though her sister is angry at her
and thinks she is infantile and bitter
the truth is the opposite:
she is saving her sister’s life

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over seven 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.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *


painting by Jane Gilday

Arbor Birds

(acrylic on panel)


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

* * * * * * * * * * * *

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.

* * * * * * * * * * * *


art by Kreso Cavlovic


Hikama and other poems

by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois



My first hangover in two years
and it feels like morning
It is morning

It feels like love
like the reincarnation of an old friend
like a poltergeist is handling the details
of my life

Red wine is redder in Mexico
I eat a crunchy white vegetable whose name
I cannot remember
though that vegetable is like a brother to me

When I get full-blown Alzheimer’s
I will wander the streets crying
trying to get someone to tell me the name
of that vegetable

but no one will know
what the fuck I am talking about
and they will tell me
Go home, old man

Someone will put me on a bicycle taxi
pedaled laboriously by my old friend

Delgadillo will say:
What does it matter
the names of things?
You can’t remember my name anymore but
you still love me
and I love you
though I wish you hadn’t become
so damn obese

Pedaling you
is a burden
and my chain clanks from the strain


3 Fingers

My hostess has only three fingers
and I wonder if that’s the consequence
of her terrible auto accident

or whether she was born that way
I can’t keep myself from staring
as if a missing finger is a
big deal

I distract myself
by asking her husband, Rolando
why he decided to move to
Merida Mexico
as opposed to settling somewhere
in the balmy American South

I’m Mexican and Black, he says
I don’t want to live in Mississippi or Alabama
or anywhere primitive and racist

I don’t tell him that my father was from Mississippi
and my mother was from Alabama
I squelch my Southern accent

When I was in college I taught myself to do that
so no one would know I was from
the ass end of some southern backwoods

but when I go back home
my true voice emerges full flower
and I eat collard greens
and drink tea so sweet
it makes my teeth hurt

and when my niece is colicky
I put Coca-Cola in her baby bottle
as we’ve done for generations

I notice Rolando
has a blowup of a magazine cover
a photo of Barrack Obama
and as I study it
I notice that Rolando has a remarkable resemblance
to Barrack
and I want to comment on it

but I don’t want him to think that
white people think
all colored people look alike

especially if he’s gotten a whiff
of my accent


Guzman’s Monkey

Santo Domingo de Guzman—
his halo is a big, tarnished ten-peso note
and his holy book
is a loaf of stale bread

He’s fulfilled every boy’s dream—
he’s got a pet monkey by his side
but his monkey is unhappy
He’s got a bad cold and needs
a decongestant

but Guzman doesn’t have a decongestant
and he doesn’t want to go to town to get some
It’s too far
and it’s too hot
and he doesn’t have the money for it anyway

Guzman is sad his monkey is not feeling better
It’s depressing when you have a pet monkey and
he’s depressed
Hopefully he’ll feel better soon

The Virgin of the Immaculate Conception
is his neighbor
in the stucco apartment court
She is also having trouble

It is a day for monkeys and virgins to have trouble
and be depressed
and it depresses Guzman
The sun is shining and everyone is depressed

Guzman grabs the wrist of Jesus’ older brother
and pulls him from the jaws
of the Puma Devil

The Puma Devil’s mouth
is full of flames

Guzman says:
See! We can do something about our fates!
Life gets better every day!
Cheer up, people!
It’s morning in the Mezo-American Empire!

* * * * * * * * * * * *

M. Krochmalnik Grabois’ poems have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He is a regular contributor to The Prague Revue, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, most recently for his story “Purple Heart” published in The Examined Life in 2012, and for his poem. “Birds,” published in The Blue Hour, 2013. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for 99 cents from Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition.

Grabois was born in the Bronx, and now splits his time between Denver, an old schoolhouse in Michigan and occasionally, Merida Mexico.

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photo by Angela M Campbell