top of page

Three poems by Mitchell Krochmalnik Grabois

My Sister’s Song

My dentist, Dr. Sasaki, told me

I have severe periodontal disease

and acid erosion

I told him I was only there for a cleaning


You’re so far beyond cleaning

that you’re in the category

of the Fukishima Fuck-Up

(What a mouth on this dentist!)

What’s that?

What do you mean, what’s that?

Fukishima is a tsunami-generated nuclear catastrophe

Worse than Chernobyl


What? Have you been hiding under a rock?

My TV broke and I work hard all day

cleaning barns

I don’t have time to keep informed

and I don’t have the money for

complicated dental work


I will pay you to go to Fukishima

and shovel nuclear soil

into black plastic contractor bags

for one year

And if you do that

I will provide you all the dental work you need

absolutely free

So I got on the plane

I was carrying my spade

but the stewardess took it away

told me it could be used

for terrorist acts

told me she could throw me in prison

for the rest of my life for bringing

a sharp-bladed spade onto a plane

I apologized profusely

told her I’d never been on a plane

(which was true)

and didn’t know how to act

told her I was just a poor farmwoman

who mucked out barns for a living

and Dr. Sasaki

had paid for me to fly to his homeland

abandoned so many years before

to help

in the nuclear clean-up

The stewardess said: OK

I’ll put your shovel with the tuxedoes

and guitars

and give it back to you

when we get to Tokyo

She gave me a free drink

a Bloody Mary

for my trouble

She said we would be BFF

She told me what that was

I finished my work in Japan

and came back

to Dr. Sasaki’s office

but in the meantime Dr. Sasaki had died

but his son, also a dentist

Dr. Sasaki Junior

said: What’s fair is fair

so he fixed my gums

fixed my teeth

implanted some really fine choppers

all for nada

Now I look so good

I have a boyfriend

and don’t have to muck out barns


This idyllic scene

fields of wheat

tall grass along the ditches

red-winged blackbirds

playing hide-and-seek

Yeah it looks great

til you get out there

til your senses

reveal the truth

This idyllic scene

this cropland

is really crapland

fertilized with and

irrigated by

sewage from Paris

the city of whores

and venereal disease

where morality has fled

and Toulouse-Lautrec

paints pictures of


thrown up in a can-can

Yeah, beautiful

this scene

if you can cut the nose off your face


My uncle killed himself

He outfitted his bald head with a wig

and took square dancing lessons

but it wasn’t enough

He should have taken Zoloft

but Zoloft wasn’t invented then

I took my cousin, N

his daughter

to see the movie American Splendor

We both thought it was hilarious

In gratitude she sent me the book

American Splendor

I enjoyed it immensely

but gave it away

during my last move

but I kept the photograph she’d slipped

into the book

one of herself with a new hairstyle

holding a guitar

She was teaching herself to play

her note said

She was going to be the next

Joan Baez

What a sense of humor

When I got the news that she’d committed suicide

I wished I’d kept that book

American Splendor

Mitchell Krochmalnik Grabois was born in the Bronx and now splits his time between Denver and a one-hundred-and-twenty-year-old, one room schoolhouse in Riverton Township, Michigan. His short fiction and poems have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines in the U.S. and internationally. He 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. Grabois’s novel,Two-Headed Dog, is available for all e-readers for 99 cents. Click for Kindle. Click for Nook. Click for theprint edition.

bottom of page