by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois
You want me to hit you with a stick, but all I’ve got is a guitar pick. (Lou Reed)
The gorilla, conscience of the world, sits and broods and ignores the humans pressed against the glass.
The old is dying, the new cannot be born. In this interregnum, a great variety of morbid symptoms. (Gramsci)
A splintered pick. Is it wood or some unfathomable synthetic? That’s the same question I ask about life. Are we God’s joke? Can I play guitar after my gall bladder surgery?
The gorilla stuffs hay in his mouth. A little while later he lights himself on fire, using a pile of hay as accelerant. Where did he get a match? What cruelly sympathetic zookeeper conspired with him, or at least aided and abetted him?
My dentist told me I had acid erosion. The foods you think are good for you, aren’t, he said. They strip the enamel from your teeth. They ruin your smile. Even if you’re happy, you won’t want to smile.
We’re exhausted by the Axis of Evil, by its mobile geometry, the angles that won’t stay put on the page,
St. Francis preached to birds and small animals. He never preached to gorillas. There were no gorillas in Assisi.
its shifting players and faces.
Every chord I strum brings fresh pain, pain of finger and soul. I cannot focus on your pain. I have too much of my own.
Look, my dentist said, I’ve been watching you since you were a kid and I gave you lollipops. You’ve always made the wrong decisions and you’re still doing it. This girlfriend you have—you think she’s good for you, but she isn’t. You think she’ll make you smile, but she won’t.
Pope Francis reads the article about the gorilla who immolated himself. He ponders this unprecedented event. He reminds himself that he is the representative of God on Earth.
Even if you want to smile, you can’t, because your teeth have been eaten away by acid erosion. The food you think is good for you, isn’t.
Every strum reminds me that my fingers are full of splinters, my body full of heroin, my soul full of sadomasochism.
Your career choice, too. You think “helping other people” will be gratifying, but it won’t. You think you can lift them up, but they’ll just drag you down. You think helping them will help you forget your problems with your girlfriend, but it won’t. You’ll drag each other down into misery and despair. Neither of you will have anything to smile about.
These are my prison notebooks, my homage to Gramsci, the hunchback, the communist, whose illness never let him grow over five feet. The grapes on the arbor dangled well above him.
You want me to hit you with a stick.
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.