Braganzas · Mitchell Grabois

If they were going to put me in the nuthouse
I was going to need my collection of Bertita Harding novels
They had power —
the stories of these heroes would keep me alive:
Karl and Zita of Hungary
Austria’s Franz Joseph and Elizabeth
the Mexicans Maximillian and Carlotta
Duse and Da, whose tale age cannot wither
and the glowing story of Clara Shumann

but my wife, a Lithuanian
whose hands were strong
from decades of milking cows
tore them from my grasp
and shoved them into the Fat Boy stove
where I heard them crackling in anguish
as she held me away

I would have burned my hands retrieving them
and not cared at all

All I could save was my favorite
the story of the Braganzas of Brazil
who created independence
from the Empire of Portugal
which I had hidden
in my patterned brocade vest
which I wore over my cummerbund

The hell with you all
I was never cut out to be a farmer
When they release me I’ll take Bertita
on the open road
and together we’ll find a green paradise
something like Ireland

Work by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois appears in magazines worldwide. Nominated for numerous prizes, he was awarded the 2017 Booranga Centre (Australia) Fiction Prize. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, is based on his work as a psychologist in a state hospital. His poetry collection, The Arrest of Mr. Kissy Face, is forthcoming from Pski’s Porch Publications. Visit his website, wordsbymitch