poems

by Mitchell Grabois

 
 
Blood

 

1.

 

Her mother raised her Catholic

but somewhere along the way

between inspecting U.S. Navy aircraft

(her softness inside their hardness)

and teaching Montessori students

(her hardness inside their softness)

Latilda joined a cult

 

lived in a fallout shelter

forty feet underground

scrubbed black mold from the walls

at the leader’s command

no protective gear

 

was taught to believe in archangels

who share their karma

with those who worship them

 

 

2.

 

When her father died

age 90

her mother intended to plant him

in St. Anthony’s graveyard

 

but Latilda’s religion specified that he

be cremated

that the smoke should  rise up to heaven

where the archangels could fan it

to the four quadrants

 

Conflict

between mother and daughter

conflict

unbroken by death

 

their lifelong pattern

but now  more at stake

her husband’s/ her father’s

soul

 

Finally the funeral director

forced their hand

He had an ulcer

didn’t have the stomach

for their argumentative

impasse

 

They compromised:

the body would be buried

but only after his blood was cremated

 

The funeral director

placed the blood in an urn

as if it were a sacrifice to

the goddess Isis

or the Minotaur

 

He wondered:

when this blood boils

will the dead man’s spirit

boil with anger?

 

Would he lash out in an

inarticulate

occult manner

that might harm me?

 

The blood quickly came to a

roll

like a pot on a stove

waiting for eggs

 

then burst into flame

 

Latilda

watching through the crematorium’s small window

saw the smoke

inhaled by an archangel

who had suddenly appeared

 

To her sharp and penetrating chagrin

the archangel had the appearance of

her high school boyfriend

 

stoned all the time

always ready to inhale something

cigarettes

gasoline glue

pot, if he could afford it

 

But then the archangel blew the smoke

through the walls

to the four corners of the Earth

 

Latilda ran outside to see it

(her father’s iron poor blood

transformed)

swept away by

the wild wind

which blew in all directions

at once

 

She knew that

now it didn’t matter

what happened to her father’s earthly body

 

 

 

Fear

 

When we made love again that night

in the silence of the abandoned mansion

the fire within Tu’s flesh

made me feel as if I were a rocket shell

rotating through the air

as I sped toward a target

 

When I came

I felt as if I were breaking

into a thousand pieces of shrapnel

 

Dizzy

eyes turning backwards

my nostrils pinched

bad leg throbbed

 

I’d known her for so many years

Why had we never made love before?

 

She had replaced my two-headed mother

and all the engrams carrying false messages

about who I was

 

The fear that had penetrated my

body and mind

ruled the air like the birds

ruled the trodden pathway

like the snake

ruled the trees

like iguana

ruled the forest

 

was gone

I was free to start fresh

 

 

 

D

 

1.

Even as the Zoloft inhibits

serotonin’s reuptake

Depression plots sabotage

 

D makes the irrational seem rational

the destructive constructive

D runs its schemes

 

D makes me believe that everything I’ve gained

I should throw away

that all security

should be shattered

insecurity the natural order

relationships should be torn apart

 

and I should return to the

Merchant Marine

and freight the lonely seas

with the burdens of my past

 

2.

Standing on the bow deck

I see skeletons riding on the backs

of porpoises

It is Dia de las Muertos

on the high seas

 

The sharks know my name

the whales speak in

obscure foreign languages

they’ve learned

for the sole purpose

of keeping me in the dark

 

The octopuses practice talking

Navajo Code

 

The wind in my ears

hearing aids whistle and moan

The captain laughs

at my disabilities

 

the navigator too

with his bad teeth

sharp like a barracuda’s

 

Barracuda rarely attack humans

but the navigator has me on his bucket list

for extinction

 

 

 

Ice

 

Over are the days of the ice bridges

that winter passage

between the mainland

and this island

 

It was only

a three-season isle

but now is

isolated

in every season

 

no respite

from isolation

 

New wolves cannot cross

to perform genetic rescue

so the remaining wolves

fuck their parents

fuck their children

The packs genetically warp

Climate change has doomed them

 

With few wolves

the moose population explodes

but the excessive heat stresses them

maddens them

until their parenting skills are as weakened

as humans’

 

Moose are running amuck

as in a low-budget zombie flick

 

The environmentalists give up

leave the masses to their

manipulated ignorance

 

join monasteries, convents

Zen retreat houses

or simply find a cave

on a mountainside

in which to live and die

 

There, at least, they will share the purity

of God

or the Buddha

 

 

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