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