Wooden Man


The old is dying. The new cannot be born. In this interregnum, a great variety of morbid symptoms. —Gramsci


We’re exhausted by the Axis of Evil, by its mobile geometry, the angles that won’t stay put on the page, its shifting players, the triangles that aspire to be knives, the chemical weapons that masquerade as ingredients for nouvelle cuisine. These are my prison notebooks, my homage to Gramsci, the hunchback, the communist, whose illness never let him grow over five feet. The grapes on the arbor dangled well above him.



When I returned to my village in Africa, I always went to the clearing where the Wooden Man stood eight feet tall. He is the Jesus, but not the Christ. The villagers atone for their sins by pounding nails into him. I have done so many times, every time I returned from America, to try to rid myself of my feeling of contamination. I felt the need for deep cleansing, so I pounded nails into the wooden man in the clearing and cried in a loud voice: I’m sorry I’m sorry. Forgive me.

He is riddled with thousands of nails, mostly pounded in by villagers who have never been to America. Foolishly, they all want to go. I could not convince them otherwise—I finally stopped trying.

The wooden man stares steadfastly forward. He did not cry out as I pounded in the largest and rustiest nails I could find.

Mitchell Grabois


Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over twelve-hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He has been nominated for numerous prizes.  His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. To see more of his work, google Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois. He lives in Denver.