Jaws of Life


I’ve been even fatter than I am now. I’ve been as fat as the dunce in Confederacy of Dunces. I’ve been fatter than John Candy and Roseanne Barr. I’ve been fatter than all the desperate comedians on Saturday Night Live. I’ve been thinner too. I’ve been as thin as one slat of a Venetian blind.

I wish I was skinny all the time, like a concentration camp prisoner behind barbed wire. Then I’d get the chicks, and not only the anorexic ones.  


But it’s not just my weight or lack of it that’s my problem. My mental status is, regretfully, corrupt. I reject medications, except those I administer myself. For therapy, I wash and blow-dry my Muscovy duck. He’s a dirty bird. He revels in dirt. His clean spouse gives him dirty looks.

They have lots of babies. I kidnap and eat them. That’s also part of my therapy.


I sat facing the door of the restaurant, drank sweet tea until my teeth hurt, wondered about the rate of diabetes in the Deep South, didn’t feel inclined to change my behavior. I’d change it when it was too late.

I waited for Tiffany to walk in, my illicit schizophrenic lover. She’d greet me casually, as if she hadn’t escaped, and tell me how important I was to her, that she’d been slipping into a really bad space, and would I talk with Dr. Tuna Fish about increasing her medication, maybe trying her out on that new antipsychotic she’d heard about, the one whose name starts with a ‘C?’

Sitting there, I felt more sympathetic toward our patients than I ever had. I felt their mule-stubborn, tires-skidding-on-asphalt denial in my own chest.

In the john, I took a long piss and read the graffiti above the urinal: Eternity—Too Long To Be Wrong. Someone had written it there just for me.

I paid my bill. 


After the car crash in which my wife lost her left leg, I noticed, amazed, half a tuna sandwich sitting unmoved on the dashboard. My wife had been sleeping across the back seat. She was quite short and got really mad, when she was a kid, when anyone called her a midget. But her lack of height allowed her to sleep comfortably back there. The car wasn’t even all that big, just a Honda Fit.  

We had to wait for the Jaws of Life to get us out. Meanwhile I ate the sandwich. It had too much mayo and the bread was stale, but the heirloom tomatoes were excellent.


I like eating tomatoes. They remind me of what humans could be. Growing from seed, flowering, fruiting, they impart peace as I weed them. They ask me how they can serve me. I say: You know how you can serve me.

My wife made some multi-grain bread, her last act as a two-legged woman. I must admit I have a weakness for salt and mayonnaise.

In the barn, I pat my rototiller. Like my dog, I rescued it. They are both as loyal as the tomatoes, as loyal as my wife. She is as loyal with one leg as she was with two, maybe more so, because her insecurity has increased. I surround myself with loyalty. That makes life good.

Tomatoes make their selfless donations to the lives of others. They enjoy the sunny days and the cool nights. That’s all they ever ask for, and some water to drink. When they’re done with their lives, the plants wither. They barely sense when I pull their dead bodies up and toss them into the woods behind the garden where we buried my wife’s severed leg.

There they lay with soft, vague memories of the many bees with whom they shared their lives.


Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over thirteen-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.