Three Poems by Mitchell Grabois

Cosmonautica

 

1.

The cosmonauts crashed the sound barrier and sideswiped the Berlin Wall, leaving slashes of metallic blue paint. On that questionable basis, the Democrats hired them to break down the wall that Donald Trump erected on the southern border of the American Empire to keep the rightful owners from returning. You can never return.

You can never return that bad hairpiece, nor your wedding dress, your Santa suit, the banjo and the mandolin you broke in a methamphetamine rage. I shall be released, you screamed, but there was no one there to say: Make it so. Instead, your mother screamed: Shut the fuck up! Your aunt screamed: You shall never be released!

Only a homeless American veteran is more pathetic than a threadbare cosmonaut who’s become a welfare chiseler, waters down his mother’s vodka and staggers aimlessly through the streets of Moscow and of Saint Petersburg, searching for Rasputin or his ghost.

 

2.

The cosmonauts crashed the sound barrier just yesterday and avoided the drones, massed like Walmart shoppers on Black Friday, who were there to trip them up and trample them, to save a kopek. They had no idea that the sound barrier was old hat.

There they are, old cosmonauts, sitting on the park bench with the sign:

This bench is for Captain Hatton, much loved husband and father, except for that decade when he had the affair with that Venezuelan slut and broke our mother’s heart, which made us hate him for a while, but we eventually forgot it, and even the FBI refused to hold it against him, despite his high security clearance and all the secrets embedded in the layers of his Raytheon flesh and ITT soul. Mom even came back from Nebraska, where she’d gone to reconnect with her dry dry roots.

 

3.

Eventually the Cosmonauts got jobs running the irritable locomotives that pull the Alphabet Train.

Hello! Hello! Alphabet Train!

A Train, Apple Train, B Train, Banana Train, H Train, Hobo Train

 

I’m the oldest motherfucker riding the rails. If I fall onto the tracks, my hips will break like any old fart falling out of bed or on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. It doesn’t matter that I’m a legend, the last Beat still cranking it out, still finding my inspiration in life’s crap.

 

Bearded

 

Hell is neither here nor there

Hell is not anywhere

Hell is hard to bear

–W.H. Auden

 

1.

A giant anteater put his tongue down my throat. I’d been eating chocolate covered ants. Since I got this new job at the zoo, I’ve been expanding my range of experiences. Don’t judge me. I’ve been lonely for so long, I deserve intimacy wherever I can find it.

In any case, during the decades that I’ve lived, I’ve come to despise people. The only way I tolerate my boss is to imagine him as an orangutan, the animal he most resembles. Then I can be cordial with him and follow his orders, which contradict each other from day to day.

I’ve found human women harder to take than men, which is unfortunate, because my preferences are heterosexual. Women, by and large, are so confused these days that they put out vibes that are a combination of static and non-geometric black-and-white pop art designs. Thank God they are not in color.

I like my job at the zoo. I like scooping poop. It takes me back to my roots. I like feeding. I can sense the beasts’ hunger as I approach and their satiation as I depart. It’s all so much simpler than human life, with its living legacy of slavery and the brutality that barely hides under the smug smiles of Hollywood stars, famous authors, network news anchors, etc. All reek of the same stench:

I’ve made it! I am great! I am so satisfied with myself, I could just shit (on you).

The Repuglican candidates are the worst—they appeal to the basest of our prejudices and those of us with any sense hope that the one whose soul is least ugly will prevail.

But, as the socialist has pointed out, all their souls are bought and paid for, so, in effect, they have no souls.

 

2.

The pope preached love, then went away. He slipped out of the news. The elation he created was as fleeting as an orgasm.

This is a Judeo-Christian country, the black repuglican candidate says mildly. Providing health care to all is like slavery. If rabbis had had assault rifles, the Jews would have killed all the Nazis. This candidate is a retired neurosurgeon so we think he is smart, but a neurosurgeon is just an advanced sort of mechanic and everyone knows mechanics are stupid. That’s why I prefer the company of animals, nine- to-five, and then at home I have my pets, my collection of reptiles.

My favorite is the Bearded Lizard. He is so knowledgeable. I sit at his feet and ask him questions and he responds with great wisdom that stays with me for a short while and then evaporates. I do not have the abstract capabilities to store it, so every night I ask him again and every night he enlightens me anew.

 

3.

I was in Ace Hardware this morning. They made a key for me that didn’t work, but it was a pleasure to have that key made by a young woman with tribal and modern art-inspired tattoos on her very thin arms, so I forgave.

The cashier had no tats, but also had very thin arms. Both these women together had barely a shred of muscle between them. I would like to have watched them arm wrestle, weakness against weakness, tats against the whiteness of skin. Very exciting.

Then two homeless people came in, each pushing the kind of carrier an old lady might use to load and unload her groceries, and the homeless lady said: Do you have little wheels like these? (pointing at the right wheel at the front of her cart) and the weak-armed cashier looked a little edgy and said: No, we don’t carry wheels like that.

 

Joe’s Bar

 

1.

The world has passed me by—that’s a common feeling, in fact, a universal one and then, objectively true. That’s why I’ve stayed here on the farm as my siblings, one by one, have gone to the cities to pursue their ambitions and “dreams.”

The bar where I drink at the edge of a nearby town doesn’t have a name. It was called Joe’s for a few years, when a fellow named Joe owned it, but after Joe died and it went on to other owners, they took down the Joe’s sign and never put up another. In un-Joe’s, there are other guys like me, guys I went to school with a long time ago, who sleep in their houses but live in their barns, who are not farmers anymore or who were never farmers.

I invited the world to pass me by and it did. I opened myself to the inevitable and didn’t know if that was wisdom or foolishness. I still don’t.

 

2.

However, some years after my father died, I changed. I ran to California. I ran from my origins like a man running from a tsunami. I ran ever northward, from L.A. to the Bay Area, from the Bay Area to Humboldt County, almost to the Oregon border. In each place I invented new modalities for my madness, but my madness never left me. It was only when I finally left that state that it began to fade.

I imagined I was going to a place where I would live down a dirt road among orange groves, a Florida reincarnation of a defunct California dream, but, of course, it wasn’t like that. I took up residence where alligators ate dogs, men carried flasks of bourbon in their boots and stood and removed their hats when a band played Dixie. An ancient photographer reached into a dusty drawer and pulled out a black-and-white photograph of the last lynching done in that town, which, for a long time, was the last lynching in the South.

But everything old is new again and race-hatred and violence is as recyclable as old TV shows, old movies.

 

3.

War criminals feign care and concern as they console lesbian daughters. Or they paint still-lifes of fruit and flowers. Their bank accounts fattened by the thousands of murders they have committed, their newest conspiracy was to have NO REGRETS tattooed on their shriveled biceps. For a change, their actions hurt no one except, afterward, they had the tattoo artist murdered by one of their old operatives whose loyalty was still bought by stacks of greenbacks, and who made it look like an auto accident. That was an easy assignment.

 

 

 

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