all they see is an anonymous Asian 

Poetry by Mitchell Krochmalnik Grabois, Winter 2014



Tu was a psychiatrist

but not my shrink

Not mine


We were


I was a professional in

a profession I gave up so long ago

I can’t remember what it was


Tu was famous

though no one knew


She was the little girl photographed


down the napalmed road

her face a mask of pain

her skin melting


But when people look at her these days

all they see is an anonymous Asian

in black-framed glasses


They don’t know that napalm is

still in her skin

threatening to combust


I love her for her sacrifice

and unconditional acceptance

She is healing me with her heart


I ink secret messages

in the rubber

of my black and white Keds


She reads them and understands

but pretends she hasn’t seen



That night, Tu handed me a couple of pills

For your malaria, she said


I’ve never had malaria

but I took them

as a show of trust


Later we went for a walk in the woods

Suddenly we were in a thunderstorm

drenched to the skin

Lightning flashed

and a bolt hit a tree not fifty feet away


We screamed

and dropped into a ditch


The water flowed under and around us

and reflected the flashes of lightning

that lit the varicose sky


The mud was orange ointment and

when I peeled off Tu’s clothing

her molten blue flesh

hissed like serpents


Crawdads scuttled out of the way

of our transcendence


Around us, black pajamas

banged blocks together

nodding and smiling

deafening us



M. Krochmalnik Grabois’ poems have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He is a regular contributor to The Prague Revue, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, most recently for his story “Purple Heart” published in The Examined Life in 2012, and for his poem. “Birds,” published in The Blue Hour, 2013. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for 99 cents from Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition.

Image: US Airforce

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