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Mitchell Grabois

Furious Gaze


Someone has studied my life and reproduced it in this museum. 


If I finally get rid of my ’60 Studebaker and buy something modern, a car that will look behind itself for crawling infants, that will park itself, and recite the encyclopedia as it drives itself through corn fields, will that vehicle end up in this museum too?


One–legged Diego el Mulato carries a parrot on his shoulder, but now that modern times are here, he knows that his adornment is trite. The parrot himself would like another gig.


When I die, will they mummify me like an Egyptian and use me as an exhibit, every couple of months moving me down the line of cars?


The cruelty of Lolonois, his snarl, his raised sword—he’s a recluse, a wounded and ugly soul. He despises people, but is not excessively bloodthirsty. If he could afford it, he’d be a poet instead.


I’m a litany of symptoms: severe headaches, ocular migraines, half-blinded by geometric patterns working my optic nerve from within. Nausea wells up, heart lurches, like an old VW with intermittent vapor lock.


The corn cringes beneath the turbines’ furious gaze. When they were Monsanto genetically modified seeds, they thought they were agriculture’s WASP bluebloods, who could never be maligned, but in the fields, they grow under the bladed overseers’ cold stares. Their impulse to flourish is now equaled by their impulse to wither, eros and thanatos with tassles.


Bartolome Portugues is an unhappy cocker spaniel. He holds his sword across his chest like the sash of a carnivale queen and wears a ribbon around his neck. He would like to come out of the closet, but can’t. Even though it’s 2017, his compatriots would run him through as an abomination.


For their part, the turbines feel constrained by the soft breeze. They want a hurricane. They want to spin in a steroid wind. The fields of corn irritate them, all those redundant rows, the dull sameness of the word beneath them. The pirate windmills pray for a field-consuming fire, thousands of acres of blackened crop, a fire to generate a stiff, howling wind.


I thought I’d left dysfunction behind in my impoverished youth, when I knelt by the side of the road. Even then I didn’t panic like I do now, over nothing. Anxiety floats free in the turbine stoked, insomniac wind.


I still use my dad’s old doc. He orders tests as if he has just discovered Chinese food. The tests show nothing.


I sit here tonight on my porch, shake a bottle of sleeping pills like a cup of dice, slosh the beer in the red and blue can. The wind gusts hard. The turbines growl and pound our home with subsonic vibration.


The two titanium rods in my legs, the tape measure I invariably wear on my belt, and my brain’s crackling synapses conspired to give me the appearance of a dangerous terrorist. The airport security personnel responded with alacrity. They re-broke my femurs to remove the rods, and pounded them on a steel guard rail in support of their thesis that the rods were pig iron, not titanium at all.

I lay on the floor in helpless agony, protesting that I would not have pig iron in my body, that I was a Jew and kept kosher.

They ripped the tape measure from my belt, snipped it into short pieces, and wrapped them around their heads like marathoners’ headbands. They tore off my Timex to destroy my sense of space and time.

My brain’s synapses crackled like bacon, which was consistent with their pig iron thesis. There are elephants, there are donkeys. You are a Pig.

When I was a teenager, I’d used the word “pig” to degrade L.A. cops, as in Joni Mitchell’s lyric, I’ll even kiss a Sunset pig, so the irony of the pigs calling me a Pig was ferocious.

I was finally released. Crippled, disoriented, heaped with insults, I returned to my messy abode.

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