There is the moment,
cornered and heady.
I learn that a room can grow
small without magic.
A throb of walls,
Amazing, the paint did not peel
from the heat
of my screams.
The mind tries to soften
with repression and vodka.
I doubt freedom
from the flashes
A terrible movie
where the audience
His sour desire and awakened
trying to separate.
He builds the moment
solid and silent,
this box of violence,
a rotting wood
like a lie.
The girl as mini tragedy,
her smooth slit floats in the fluid,
ready for the cruel world,
ready to grow, bear her own children.
The girl is taken early from her mother—
two hearts beat through the procedure,
only one travels back home.
She will try again, he comes to her
The girl reappears like a trick.
Her hands are ready for work—
the cooking of rice and what meat
her family can afford.
The girl is taken again, no time
to be a spirit, no time to run the fields
in a thin dress, a hand me down
from another sister who never
The Killing Club
The fibers from the ropes are needles
pricking my neck. You tighten
your finely crafted knot. I
try to swallow my fear, but the noose has
made rub burns all around
It hurts to think
to me, You asked for this.
STILETTO KILLER… A Surmise
“She told me if anybody screwed with her they’d get a stiletto heel in the eye,”
- her former apartment manager told the TV news.
Alf and Ana drank tequila at the club until closing.
Ana wore a tight, green dress. Alf said she looked like a whore.
Back at the apartment, the neighbors heard screams.
“The defense will prove she was a battered woman,” her lawyer told the press.
She was too short when the stilettos came off but her feet ached.
She had to stand on tiptoe to reach him, for Christ’s sake.
Women are always losers in Texas.
Ana alleged: “He cursed in Swedish when he beat me.”
She’d read Swedes beat their women in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
In the early morning hours, Ana stabbed her lover thirty one times.
The stiletto heel fused to her fist.
When the police arrived Ana was covered in blood.
In that green dress she looked like Christmas.
(CNN) -- It may have been a vicious murder or the unintentional result of a
lover's quarrel. Either way, the death of a Texas college professor stands
out for the weapon the killer allegedly used: one of her own stilettos.
She puts bowls on the table,
fixates on the scarred oak union,
digs her resentment into the grooves.
This is how he knows her:
He eats her temporal lobe. Skim milk splashes in
the bowl. 5% body fat;
a new low.
Riddle: When is a promise like a bayonet?
I’ve been meaning to tell you.
A woman betrayed in a breakfast nook does
not constitute a poem.
Her dead mother reaches through the wall,
throws the marriage in her face.
Her husband grabs his bowl and a spoon.
“Sit down, darling,” he says.
SPREADING MY LEGS FOR SOMEONE (POSING FOR PIRELLI)
The grey-suited Pirelli rep. sat behind the desk,
puffing on a cigarette. White smoke hung in the air
I slipped off my dress.
Kept my stilettos.
There was nothing on the agency man’s glass-topped
brain but my nakedness.
He wouldn’t meet my eye.
“Jesus!” he exclaimed when I bent over
to tighten an ankle strap.
The photographer looked like Antonio Banderas.
“Sit down on the seamless,” he said, pointing to the
black backdrop that spilled onto the floor.
He rolled the tire over to me, snapped on the lights.
I sat, cross-legged, clutching the tire close.
My naked breasts peeked through the center,
the nipples erect. I laid my hot face along the tread.
The photographer pushed up his cashmere sleeves,
picked up his Nikon.
The lights bore down like August; the cement
below the seamless bruised my ass. The two men
stared at me the way my stepfather did.
I pushed the damp strands of hair from my forehead.
Arched my back. Opened my thighs.
The suit lit another cigarette.
Antonio Banderas moved in for a close-up.
“Is this what you want?” I asked.
My feet poked out from the tire’s rubber frame
Trashy Bitch Change-Up
So forgotten, or maybe forced
out of the mind—Chica doesn’t know how
they see her. She’s always blind
sighted, in some ways, by men’s behavior.
Her first memory of this was made
when she was a small child melting broken
crayons on the aluminum garbage can lid
beside of her family’s flat. That day
home became more broken than any other word
she had ever known. Each fragment
of crayon changed from solid to a liquid grace
harmonizing each color swirling
in a pretty frenzy of broken things
on that receptacle for unwanted things. Later, the word
garbage was thrown around as if was her
name. Little white girl running with street rats
in every shade of human flesh.
She’s predestined to read markings left on trash
cans. She has no means of self-
identification. Where does this road stop? Her dad said,
Later. It’s your mother’s fault. The family dog, Lady,
followed him into the metallic green Chevy Nova
he promised to her when she was old
enough to drive. Slamming the door,
he didn’t look back. She never saw the car or the dog
again. His eyes offered no tears for his little girl
dressed like a boy in an unconscious attempt
to give Daddy the son he wanted. That day he
swore to show her how to throw a curve
ball. Chica never learned to pitch any
sort of ball. Indifference is a cruel
rule of order. Thirty years later, she still has no
car of her own. She’s out grown her baseball cleats
which sit quietly in a box marked “old
He’s the Man, All-righty
Otherwise known as a supervisor, what he is,
is a talker of shit who smears anyone’s name
to make his own look good. It doesn’t matter
that he ain’t even bright enough to pass the personality
test which opens the door to the Corporate
managerial hierarchy, keeping him in his place
as the stupid “yes” man. He’s a duped
dummy: a Corporate puppet. Solely a lifeless thing
controlled by strings.
It’s 3:14 in the morning, and I’m eating Value Time Chili.
Don’t feel like doing much of anything and have been watching more and more porn.
There are all these numbers in my head but no words. I have no idea if they’ll take me anywhere or what I’ll do once I’m there.
These are not delusions of grandeur. This is my life. I’ve made it what it is and what it is not.
I’m typing this poem with my left eye taped shut. I woke up today with Bell’s palsy. It’s challenging to eat or drink, and I don’t know when or if this facial paralysis will go away. Earlier tonight, I was on the phone with a friend, and she was having a difficult time understanding what I was saying.
These are not delusions of grandeur. I have always been a tough pill to swallow, and at forty-five, I am finding that to be even truer.
It’s 1:49 in the morning, and my mother just told me I shouldn’t stay up too late. When she refused earlier this evening to drive me to the emergency room, she lost the right to ever again tell me what to do.
We make our own beds, and then we lie in them or we don’t.
The saltines are perfect, all broken up in the chili. With every spoonful I eat, I feel that much better about all the messed up shit in my head.
Snowfall in the Morning
The attack was over before Colin could so much as flail. His body rested on the chilled concrete for a long time, and when he awoke at dawn, the creature was gone.
Blood saturating his crisp white dress shirt, Colin staggered home.
“Drunk again?” his lover asked as he collapsed at her bedside.
Then she saw the puncture wounds.
“You won’t die,” she said in the bathroom, patting the lesions with a warm washcloth. “It’ll be worse than that.”
He wretched into the sink. “Why didn’t it finish me?”
“Because you’ll be more useful to them this way.”
The words took awhile to sink in, and when they did, all Colin could manage was to wobble back to the bed.
“You can’t sleep.” His lover leaned over him. “Sleep will hasten the process.”
“But that’s the only thing I can think about.”
She grasped his arm. “Get up. Let’s take a walk. Like we used to.”
Outside, the weather was colder than he remembered, but Colin didn’t shiver.
His lover tucked her hands into her pockets. “Is there anywhere you want to go?”
“Do you want to see where it happened?”
“I’d rather not.”
“But you’d know what street to avoid,” he said.
“They could be anywhere. Seeing a spot where they’ve attacked once won’t make me any safer.”
A thick layer of snow encrusted the ground, but it had rained overnight, rained while Colin reclined on the back alley pavement. He might have died of exposure if not for his wound insulating him. Though it spread deliberately, one cell at a time, the infection knew how to preserve life until life was no longer needed.
Now hours later, that night rain had frozen atop the snow, and the ground cracked beneath their feet as they started across the nearby game land.
“Aren’t you going to ask why I was out so late?”
“I doubt it matters now,” she said.
The trees enveloped them, and they plodded along the trail they both knew by heart.
He gazed at her as the smoke of her breath snaked through the air. “What would you do?”
“It’s your choice, not mine.”
Though the worst weather was over, the storm wasn’t quite finished. Bits of ice toppled onto the treetops. Overhead, the branches chimed, and Colin listened to each mournful note.
“It’s like an elegy on Sunday morning,” he said.
Eyes downcast, his lover shook her head. “People always think things will be the same, but they’re wrong.”
Through the canopy, sunlight reflected off the snowfall, and Colin squinted into the searing white. His lover’s wide eyes weren’t so sensitive as his.
“I’ve never known anyone it’s happened to,” he said.
“I knew someone once,” she said. “And I saw him afterwards. What was left anyhow.”
They reached a clearing in the woods, the one where she had always skipped ahead, giggling.
“Witches and pixies live here,” she would whisper to Colin.
But neither of them said anything this time. Instead, they gawked at something up ahead in the center of the pasture.
He inched closer. “What is that?”
Awaiting them like a sacrificial altar was a mountain of gore.
His lover shrugged. “A field dressing. Must be deer season.”
Streams of scarlet seeped into the snow, and every curve of the intestines glistened back at Colin.
He struggled to swallow. “Why does it shimmer like that?”
“It’s cold. Things freeze in the cold.”
“We should leave,” he said. “A hunter might not see us, might fire his gun this way.”
“Or her gun,” she said.
The couple backtracked through the forest with the symphony overhead, eager to play its dirges for only Colin and his lover to hear.
“How would you stop it?” he asked.
“There are different ways. Easier ones. Messier ones.”
“Have you seen it done?”
She nodded. “Never in person though. Only in videos they showed in health class.”
“We never watched any videos like that,” Colin said.
“That’s because you’re older. When I reached high school, they knew more about it.”
He removed his coat. “What are the easier ways?”
“This time tomorrow, we take a walk,” she said. “A walk just like this one.”
“And the messier ways?”
“Well, there are a hundred of those. I probably couldn’t even think of every way to do it.”
“What if I don’t want the easy way? Would you help, even if it’s untidy?”
“If that’s what you want,” she said.
They crossed the field where their walk had begun a half hour earlier, and Colin stepped on each of his previous footprints in the snow.
“Do you love me?”
She sighed. “Of course, I do. If I didn’t, we wouldn’t be talking about this. I’d just go away and wait for it to be over.”
“Why don’t you? It makes more sense.”
“Because I love you. That’s what I’m saying.”
They reached the front door.
“Maybe you could join me.”
“No,” she said. “And if you try to force me, it won’t be so hard for me to decide. I’m not like you. I know what I want. I’d rather die with open eyes than stay alive with closed ones.”
Inside, Colin followed his own blood splatter back to the bedroom where he turned off the light and collapsed on the bed.
“Will it happen while I sleep?”
His lover sat next to him. “It might.”
“Then maybe I shouldn’t wake up at all.”
“Is that what you want?”
“I’ll let you decide,” he said.
Colin rolled over and closed his eyes. Resting against the headboard, his lover peered at him through the darkness. For the next twelve hours, she waited patiently for nightfall.
Everything is so wasteful.
Especially the use
of flesh and bone and blood
in the cause
of all this walking around
You might see people
but to me it's all
trash bags overloaded
with talk and attitude
unwilling to set themselves
out on the sidewalks for pickup.
So that's why I am
the great trash compactor,
with no particular route
but a grumbling engine load
Welcome, I say,
to the most conspicuous
of the refuse.
Then a cry and a crunch
and a furious revving of my motors.
JENNA'S LAST NIGHT
It was a full moon
that sat on her,
a whiteness that
waited by her side,
pale and erect,
the spine of a
while the solemn,
ancient, dead rock of the sky
was all weight,
such a brimful jug of light,
and now, angels have
to do it for her,
the beautiful thing,
she speaks of
but only sees as eyes fade.
is a tombstone.
The whiteness is a wine glass.
Drink, death says.
We went to sleep-away camp together. That’s where I met her. It wasn’t a coed camp, but she was pretending to be a boy.
An East Indian camp counselor levitated by the campfire, but no one was old enough to know what was happening, even the other counselors, suburban Jewish kids heading for the Ivy League at the end of a long, hot summer.
The next morning they talked together about the clever trickery they’d seen, then headed to the lake to pull a giant cage from the mud, a trap for snapping turtles.
She whispered to me that she hoped the snapping turtles escaped and snapped the bones of all the counselors, snapped off their noses and eyelashes. I was the only one who knew she was a girl.
As an adult, her overmedicated, glassy blue eyes are a perfect match for the faded denim shirt that hangs on her bony shoulders. There’s too much in her face for me to wake up to. Those eyes are the windows to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She had to raise her own parents. She had to suckle them at her breast. It was too much for her.
She was too much for me. I had to put on a life jacket and jump from the second floor window into the flood. I floated by a rowboat and pointed with my thumb to where she awaited rescue.
~Mitchell Krockmalnick Grabois~