Poetry from Mitchell Grabois



The death of my grandmother

made me want to get to the heart of things

I was only nine years old

but had an advanced sense

of the Holy and Hidden

I’d already been through spiritual crises

At seven I decided I wanted to become a rabbi

At eight my parents denied me

threatened to send me to Dozier School for Boys

a harsh reform school in the Florida Panhandle

where they hate niggers and Jews

They’d set me straight there at Dozier

said my father with a maniacal grin

They’d make me one of the “White House Boys”

put me in the cinder block bunker

painted white on the outside

unpainted on the inside

where they’d beat me as if I was a runaway


even if I was a Yid and and not a Nig

So get over your foolishness, boy

said my father in a thick and absurd

southern accent

something he’d learned from some TV show

You ain’t gonna be no rabbi

At age eight

already a religious martyr

I wrote a two-page treatise promoting atheism

which I ran off on the carbon copy machine

and handed out to all my classmates

By the end of the week

they were all atheists

and refused to go to church

or Sunday School

or the Wednesday night supper

with its collection of jello dishes

full of suspended horrors

The superintendent kicked me out of school

and threatened to send me to Dozier School for Boys

I said: I been there

I’m hardened

Do your worst, motherfucker


The Icelandic poet

came to America

to do a series of readings

While he was here he abducted

three small boys

He checked in early for his fight

He conversed amusingly with the TSA agents

He’d stowed the boys

in dog cages

No one looked very closely

so they flew through the air like that

crossed the ocean

In his homeland

in his little home isolated in the dark green forest

the poet turned the boys into trolls

not the kind of trolls you think

not sex slaves either

He kept them so entranced

they didn’t even think of their parents

their brothers and sisters

let alone miss them

Bio: Mitchell Krochmalnik Grabois was born in the Bronx and now splits his time between Denver and a one-hundred-and-twenty-year-old, one room schoolhouse in Riverton Township, Michigan. His short fiction and poems have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines in the U.S. and internationally. He 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. Grabois’s novel, Two-Headed Dog, is available for all e-readers for 99 cents on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com for the Kindle, the Nook and as a paperback. 

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