Poetry by Mitch Grabois ∅Art by Juan Alonso-Rodriguez


The fat Cuban library director

wanted me to read

at her college

but after she invited me

a higher administrator

took her aside and told her

that inviting someone like me

would be dangerous


a poet abrasive and volatile

with no loyalties

owing nothing to nobody

accustomed to telling ugly truths

a man who likes the

bared fang feel of telling them


So the fat Cuban library director

called me back and told me

her assistant would be in touch


but I had already seen through her

I already knew the game


but I played along

pretended she wasn’t a liar

lying for convenience

and for the sake of her career

like all the rest of the liars


I let her wallow in her stupidity

and opened a bottle of whiskey

good whiskey my son had given me

from when he worked in a distillery


not some cheap crap

Bukowski would have drank

in his dirty apartment

on the seedy side of Hollywood


I took a careful sip

Greed comes in many forms

and I wasn’t going to be a party to it

I didn’t need to read at that crappy backwater college

I didn’t need the money

I didn’t need the recognition

didn’t need to tell truths

or lies


Our society is like a chain-restaurant halibut

stuffed with the greasy cheese

and fake crab of Greed


and all I was going to do was eat a cheese sandwich

one slice of Pepper Jack cheese on oat bread

with a little mustard


I was going to eat it slowly

and I was going to sip the whiskey slowly

I was going to feel the planet settle

in the darkness

and I was going to hear the faint whisper

of the ocean


I was going to feel grateful that I live in Los Angeles

home of Nathaniel West and John Fante and Charles Bukowski

and that I live in California

home of Henry Miller

who didn’t care fuck-all

about the bullshit of the world

but slowly sipped absinthe

and walked down garbage-strewn alleys

feeling satisfied with his lot


a man with no money, no resources, no hopes

the happiest man alive


And I felt sorry for that fat Cuban library director

another victim

another human trapped in the jaws

of organizational life




Radioactive giantism

will feed the masses


They will crawl out from under their collapsed

garment factories

They will brush their damp and matted hair

from their foreheads

They will pick up knives and forks

spilled from the broken cafeteria

and they will attack

the hundred-foot oarfish

prehistoric and tasty

and the one-hundred-sixty-foot squid that

washed up on a Fukushima tide


Calimari for one and all!

Calamari for your tired and poor

your huddled masses yearning to breathe free


They will eat gourmet seafood

Everything is good

It’s all good






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