Three Poems by Mitchell Grabois

Insomnia Saves My Life

In Biblical days
after sixty somnolent breaths
Sleep resembled Death and Evil

so King David
diligent in preserving the purity of spirit God desired
never slept for more than fifty-nine

with inflation of all things
and under a Nubian president
whom the Aryan soul resists

it takes a thousand breaths
for Sleep to resemble Sleep
let alone Death

which puts me roughly in the middle of the night
leaving my thin
crushed pillow

to drink draughts of filtered water
and watch moonlight shine
on the black, flecked surface of
Uba Tooba granite countertops

Brown Bottle

Petra refused his cough syrup
She told Morris Mordes it would kill her
She knew the Morris was a British car, the Morris Minor
and that Mordes was a minor character in her life
though he loomed large at that moment
and that Mordes meant Death
so Morris Mordes
was death’s
shoddy vehicle

but her addictive personality crept forward
like a slow flood from a stopped-up toilet
She tipped the brown bottle back
and sucked the syrup
as rich in codeine
as a Sacramento vein in gold

I remembered Petra pre-dysentery
when she was strong
when she loomed large as a Hawaiian tiki
or one of the stone heads on Easter Island
or Stonehenge itself
her origins almost as mysterious
though I believe her mother worked in a tire factory
in Akron Ohio
and her sister had
a rare disease that
made her a dwarf

which repulsed Petra
who ran away at age eleven
and was never found and returned

Altogether an unfortunate past
then a brief respite for a few years
then the unfortunate post-dysentery present

Petra never married because no matter how accomplished
her boyfriend was
she always believed she could do better

Morris Mordes never married because
he believed
that no matter how awful a scag he was with
he could always do worse

He and Petra were an intersection
like a collision of an
eighteen-wheeler and a freight train

No, not really
not that bad

Mordes flicked a cigarette out the window of the bus
and it blew back
the lit end hit Petra in the face

She cried:
What did I do so terribly wrong that
dysentery nearly destroyed me
and now I’m with you?

Toto F

Toto’s garage band
Ceades of Destruction
almost split up because Toto
insisted that the band be called Toto F
Nobody else was buying it

ugly tattoos
not inked in prison but modeled after prison tats
hair his girlfriend cut in ragged patches
eyes like large swirled lollipops
you got at the pitiful county fair

Toto dragged
his voic cross the floor
in homag to his all-ti
ucking ero
a Seatt grung who ended his lif
with a shotgu blas

a totally straight-up way to go
Toto thought

Profile: Mitchell Grabois

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