An Autobiographical Note
As a tot I played with boats in bath, and imagined sailing off the end of the world, a prospect filled not with monsters, but air. Even early on, my parents disdained my potential career choices. Not rabbi, sailor, or moon-lander should I be, but an accountant, keeping track of gains and losses. I was resistant, so they had me surgically altered for compliance.
I obtained my GED at fifteen and set off in search of the Great White Whale by joining the Merchant Marine. That was in San Pedro, California, the second of two major events to occur there, the first being the suicide of my uncle, an accountant.
The ocean was blue. It twinkled like an eye. I left my body and observed it from deep space. Life was good and I nurtured the wisdom of humility by swabbing decks and painting iron. However, deep one night, the captain raped me, an act of violence, after which I developed a deep though contradictory fear of the sea. I could not stand to look at it–at the same time I wished to throw myself into it.
At the earliest opportunity I resigned and moved to New Mexico, where all liquidity had been leached from the world. There I built a cabin on land I did not own. Somehow a woman, a former Pittsburgh steel-mill worker with large, rough hands, appeared and announced that the Yaqui Indians had told her that her fate was to be my wife for eternity. She was fifteen years my elder, but in the context of eternity, that seemed a rather small distinction. She was as ugly and as beautiful as the desert itself, and was unable to have children. We learned each other’s natures. Our biggest concern was keeping hydrated. She got some kind of job (she never told me what it was). She went off every morning to do it and came home every evening to do me.
A rusty International Harvester truck appeared outside our cabin. She painted the outside of the cabin in camouflage so no one would ever find us unless we wanted to be found, and she painted the inside of the place in menstrual red to ensure hyper-sensuality.
At great risk to both of us, she surgically reversed the surgery my parents had early subjected me to, freeing my soul and my spirit to do anything I wished to do. But since I was doing exactly what I wished to do, the operation made little substantial difference in our lives.
Sixteen Pound Sledge
Jade has a shelf life of 400 million years, and represents eternity. Every day for years I pounded my jade boulder with a sixteen pound sledge, but could not effect eternity one bit. It was my occupation while my common-law wife was away at work, putting food on our slab of cactus. I finally gave up and accepted eternity for what it is and myself for who I am.
Guatemalans see a rabbit in the moon, who represents fertility. Fertility above and below. Americans see a man in the moon, who represents authority, spiritual subjugation, and War, America’s true religion. Time passes, and cycles repeat, with only the most superficial changes.
Aztecs sacrificed humans. The sun would not rise without the spill of blood. Now we are the Aztecs. We can’t admit it, we must deny it, deny it vociferously, maintain the masquerade, but we are edgy if a day passes without gun violence, domestic abuse, or eternal war.
Three-Day Gefilte Fish
Maia was always arriving or leaving, her stagecoach as heated as if it were fitted with a Hemi engine. There was always an unoccupied adobe house waiting for her nearby. She was a gambling woman. Night after night she spent in a room over the saloon.
In her adobe house, she bedded neither men nor women. Her husband had died and she had a crippled child in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. God had dealt her so many bad hands, she had the temerity to believe He owed her some good ones. Her face was hard as a pumpkin, and the smoothness of her cheeks anticipated goblin carving. She never stayed in one place more than three days. She considered herself a guest, even though there was no host, and she believed that guests and fish begin to stink after three days, and violence-prone cowboys hate stinky women, especially when they steal their money through whorish cunning, and give them no sex, nor even a smile in return.
Through an accident, I met her the first day she was in Yuma, Arizona. Yuma was a nothing place then, and I was a nowhere man. I didn’t have the guts to talk to her, so I sent a boy to her with a note. Dear Miss Maia,
Most of my family was killed in the Holocaust, some anatomically excavated by Mengele. I know some details but I won’t share them. My parents survived but were embittered as horseradish. Let’s hook up. If we torment each other, it will be much less than we’ve already been tormented.
Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois’ poems and fictions have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He is a regular contributor to The Prague Revue, and has been thrice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for 99 cents from Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition