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Poetry by M. Krockmalnik Grabois

50 Shades of Herpes
Published December 12,  2016
Eleventh Transmission.
Eleventh Transmission: Poetry by M. Krockmalnik Grabois
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The young girl’s hair is brown kelp
that streams southward in the current
She stands on the ocean floor
eighty feet down

She’s no scuba diver
no mermaid
but she’s invulnerable to drowning
a skill
she developed
growing up with a schizophrenic mother

She learned to adapt
to being submerged
a massive weight on her shoulders

Water is also heavy
A mere gallon of water
weighs over eight pounds
and there are millions of gallons of water
pressing on her
yet she wears a serene expression

Her wisdom flows out
flows in
flows around her
drifts with the current
and blesses people downstream

She is wiser than I will ever be
even if I live a century


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

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

Even if you wanted 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

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

Even if you did
you can’t smile
because you have acid erosion
Your teeth are rotting away


The gorilla
conscience of the world,
sits and broods
and ignores the humans
pressed against the glass

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?

St. Francis preached to birds and small animals
He never preached to gorillas
There were no gorillas in Assisi

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


The old is dying
the new cannot be born
In this interregnum
a great variety of morbid symptoms

We’re exhausted
by the Axis of Evil

by its mobile geometry
the angles
that won’t stay put on the page

its shifting players
and faces

the triangles
that aspire to be knives

the chemical weapons
that masquerade
as the ingredients
for gingerbread cookies

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

50 Shades of Herpes

My accountant told me that all my twenty dollar bills
have traces of cocaine
My librarian told me that
my borrowed copy of
Fifty Shades of Grey
has herpes

I ran to the public bathroom
soaped my hands
scrubbed them hard
sang the length of
Happy Birthday
the way you’re supposed to
to be hygienic
sang the Happy Anniversary song too
re-soaped my hands
sang Xmas carols
though they were out of season

My psychologist told me that
if I were one more grain of crazy
she was going to have me committed

I told myself that if I were any more
dangerous to myself
I would want to be committed

In the mental ward
we play knock hockey
with wooden sticks
and a wooden puck

We laugh—
the hospital is so stupid
for letting us have these weapons

We play so rough
our sticks splinter and our
hands bleed
We knock over the table
and fight
like animals

The ward staff pull us apart
That’s what we do here
It’s what we do

My heart grieves for what I’ve become
My dentist tells me I have acid erosion
My doctor tells me I have acid reflux

Vestiges of lysergic acid
flash my brain back into
Greyhound buses
with Muniere’s Disease
going nowhere

M. Krockmalnik 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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