April 1, 2014

Two poems by Mitchell Krochmalnik Grabois


Every mama armadillo
bears identical quadruplets
who recall the four quadrants
of the Earth

the South and West from whence she came
the North and East
to which she travels

Where she’s going
where her quadruplets are going
she doesn’t know

No one knows
but they push on
they make their steadfast way
going where God wants them to go
God’s beloved “turtle rabbits”
as the Aztecs called them

They keep their heads down
watch for predators
coyotes bobcats raccoons
Their shells are not always perfect protection
They keep their heads down
They cultivate humility
They move north
They move east

The children grow
and every female armadillo bears
identical quadruplets
who recall  
the four quadrants of the Earth


It was taught in third grade in my old school
but in second in my new
so I missed Cursive

and my teacher curled her lip at me
when I told her
and asked for help

She thought I was scum
a homeless kid
mom probably a crack head
dad a deadbeat
missing in action

He was missing in action
but in Afghanistan

In my imagination he was tunneling out of a cave
like a red earthworm through dirt
persistent, tireless
digging from one continent to another
digging his way to me
one day to emerge in sunshine
head first
like an infant
but without the squalling
with a big smile
See… I made it

The teacher still wouldn’t teach me Cursive
so I made up my own curves
modeled after the curly hair
of the dark-haired girl who sat in front of me

The teacher grabbed the paper from my desk
showed it around to everyone
and they all laughed
laughed at the kid with the holes in his tennis shoes

everyone except the dark-haired girl
She recognized herself in my
home-made Cursive
She saw her reflection

and it was the only validation
she had received
for as long as she could remember
She had her own story
as I found out later


Mitchell Krochmalnik Grabois’ poems 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 nominated for the Pushcart Prize, most recently for his story “Purple Heart” published in The Examined Life in 2012, and for his poem. “Birds,” published in The Blue Hour, 2013. 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.

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