Two Poems

By Mitchell Grabois

  All Hearts Broken
Fragments of ceramic cups
litter the muddy, post-hurricane road

and the rim of a plate with a picture
of an antique sailing ship
which I recognize
as a slave ship

My people were slaves and now
I’m a financial analyst
and give everyone the
same advice


My father was a half-Jewish Rumanian
but passed for Mexican
He was one of the last hired men
on the pocket ranches crammed against
the foothills of the San Fernando Valley
As the years went by
he became less Jewish
more Mexican
and finally split for Sonora

where he married an indigenous woman
and had a few kids
Charles Bukowski claimed me for a while
but the relationship was short-lived
When he left my mother
she killed herself
I wondered why she hadn’t killed herself
when my father left
Was Bukowski that special,
him and his ugly puss?
In Mexico my father sat on the porch in the evening
and carved figures from wood
He’d never done that in the San Fernando Valley
If he did
he could have taught me
I could have learned
to become a wood carver
maybe done that for a living

I could have become a silent man
instead of becoming like Bukowski
full of words
words coming out like water from a sprinkler
on a parched L.A. lawn
My father’s Mexican wife was taciturn
(I heard from a friend of his who
passed through the Valley)
My father was too,
so they never argued
Bukowski was a big arguer
engaged in a ceaseless argument with the world
with himself
with my mother
I wish my family were still together
but my parents are both dead
and I’m half dead