Poetry Drawer: There I Go by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Here I am,
on the deck of a ship. It’s 1933,
and the passengers who surround me are waving, frantically.
I’m afraid that their arms will fall off and I will be called
to provide emergency services.
I’m a doctor.

At least I harbour the delusion that I am.
Actually, I dropped out of med school before the end of my first term.

Those who have come to see us off
are also waving, and smiling so broadly that their faces threaten to split open.
You could almost forget that we’re in the Depression,
and that so many people are suffering.
From the deck of the ship we cannot see the bread lines
which stretch from New York City to Hoboken
and into the City of Brotherly Love.

But people are always suffering, said the Buddha,
It’s the essence of life.

I see myself as from afar,
as if part of me were a bird,
a seagull, flying above the harbour
elegant in its flight, sharp-eyed

The part of me that is the seagull wonders if the other parts are edible
as my body seems to be unravelling
My skin flies off in pointillist bits
and my organs and the fat surrounding them
stretch into streamers
like those hung in a social hall at a birthday party
or an anniversary

I am unravelling in other ways as well
My life story is no longer my autobiography
Who was I?
It takes an effort to answer that question
so I don’t try

There’s no centre to all these floating streamers.
No connective tissue wires them together
I remember “connective tissue” and many other technical terms
falling from the lips of my beloved teacher, Dr. Gall Bladder,
who was one of the first female professors of medicine in the world,
following only a Frenchwoman and a Bulgarian
She was celebrated,
her story appearing in newspapers and magazines
with stunning black-and-white photos.
She became so full of herself that her organs and muscles
swelled to four times their normal size.

There I go
in transit
between America and Europe
between being myself and being someone else
sailing across the sea

Now the streamers have flown together, reunited
but only for the purpose of having me appear as a man
in this wood-panelled nautical bar

The bartender is jolly as he juggles three bottles of the finest Scotch
and the male passengers thunderously applaud

Without warning, Dr. Gall Bladder appears
I had no idea that she was a passenger on this ship as, later in the evening,
I would be surprised to find that she would be sharing my cabin
However, I am delighted, as she makes me feel nostalgic

She strides up to the bar and issues a challenge:
she will arm wrestle any woman brave enough to come forward
After she easily defeats the five who respond
she challenges the men,
all of whom she destroys
Their faces turn red as they briefly struggle
They are like small insects being pinned down by a praying mantis

Finally the bartender tires of Dr. Bladder’s bullying and hits her on the head
with one of the bottles of Scotch
but it has no effect.
There’s a clang, like metal against metal.
Dr. Gall Bladder glares at him and he flees from the room
locks himself in his cabin
and stacks all the furniture against the door

Dr. Gall Bladder leaps over the bar and resumes his duties
Her mixed drinks are incredibly potent and delicious
as she concocts them from intergalactic recipes

In my stateroom
Dr. Gall Bladder wastes no time in fucking my brains out
Afterwords I must sleep deeply for 18 hours
until she wakes me to repeat the act
After that session, I must sleep even longer
When I awake, I ponder whether one can actually be “fucked to death”
It does seem more likely when your lover is an alien
whose organs and muscles have now swollen to six times their normal size

As I ponder, she says, “I may have something wrong with my kidneys, perhaps because of their enlargement but, at an opportune moment, when I feel ready, I will heal myself.”

I ask, “Can you heal me? The elements of my body have developed a dangerous
tendency to fly apart into colourful streamers that eventually fall into banks of blackened snow to be corrupted beyond redemption”

“Heal you?” she says. “What do you think I’ve been doing for the last several days?”

I feel an odd sensation. I look down at my dick—it is about two feet long. Previously it was about three inches, maybe not even that “What the hell?” I say.

She says, “That’s something we are able to do on my planet.”

“Can you do this for other humans?” I ask, imagining this as a source of immense income we can share.

“No,” she says. “I can only accomplish this for men whom I love and who love me in

“I’ve always been infatuated,” I say, “but I’m not sure that I love you.”

“If there were a God,” she says, “she would not have made you humans so greedy. Greed will destroy your species. But, before that happens, I will have transported you to my planet, where we will live in peace for eternity.”

“You’ve been reading too much dime-store science-fiction,” I say.

“Maybe,” she says, “Much of it, I’ve written. That’s how I got myself through med school. Let’s go back to bed, where I won’t be able to read or write.”

“No, no!” I cry. “I need a break. You’ve exhausted me. I need a day off, maybe three.”

“Ok,” she says, “Let’s go to the bar.”

“We can’t go to the bar,” I say sorrowfully. “We’re banned.”

“Banned? Why would we be banned? After all, I’m an eminent doctor who has cured thousands of people of the most heinous diseases.”

“Nevertheless, you broke three men’s arms wrestling them. You were as vicious as a weasel. Do you think that that’s the behaviour of a compassionate doctor?”

“That’s a ridiculous question,” she says.

Mitch Grabois has been married for almost fifty years to a woman half Sicilian, half Midwest American farmer. They have three granddaughters. They live in the high desert adjoining the Colorado Rocky Mountains. They often miss the ocean. Mitch practices Zen Buddhism, which is not a religion, but a science of mind (according to the Dalai Lama). He has books available on Amazon.

You can find more of Mitch’s work here on Ink Pantry.

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