Inland Sea |
by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

The turbines, covered in ice, are silenced. They are giant aliens who have conquered our planet, but we have a secret weapon: Severe Cold.  God lives in the Arctic, next door to Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, and His icy blasts succor us, give us peace enough to ponder His existence and the disturbing mystery of His love for us, and His hate.

The turbines, covered in ice, are silenced. I hear the earthworms dreaming. I hear the Japanese Beetles sip saki, and talk about how tasty my Horse Chestnut is.

I also hear the Horse Chestnut’s winter thoughts, his musings at how perturbed he gets in summer, when the Japanese Beetles feast on him, but when winter comes it doesn’t matter. All his leaves are gone anyway, and in the Spring he grows a whole new set. So why sweat the small stuff? He smiles to himself.

The turbines are silenced. I sit in my “office” upstairs in the farmhouse. The plaster walls, with their fifty-year-old coat of institutional green, are veined with wide seismic cracks. I’ll die before I get around to fixing them. That’s just how I am. I sit in the room’s perfect silence, and let the room talk to me. I let my grandpa talk to me about how he agrees that the walls are ugly, but he got the paint for free. My grandpa suggests that I get away for the weekend, that I put some gas in my car and drive to Milwaukee.

The art museum raises its wings with the arrogance of a swan, but cannot lift off. Milwaukee swelters. There are huge empty spaces here, but nothing approaching Detroit. I eat frozen custard and wade from the beach, where medical waste prepares for its journey to Michigan. I straddle a giant hypodermic and ride it like an inflatable beach toy across the lake. It’s an hour earlier in Michigan. An hour’s worth of crises have already occurred.

The absence of sharks, whales, dolphin, jellyfish, and salt in this inland sea fills me with desolation. Sixty miles later, apathetic surf carries me onto the Michigan shore.

The hypodermic heads straight for the tanned buttocks of a college coed on summer break. She has a tattoo of a rose on one butt cheek, like a target.

Somewhere in the distant past, a chimpanzee, in a frenzy of hunger and blood lust, devoured two monkeys and started the AIDS epidemic.

The Milwaukee hypodermic shoves its sharpness into the coed, and infects her.

The Milwaukee Art Museum lowers its wings with a sense of shame and satisfaction.

I would not rape that girl—she’s got AIDS. I would never rape anyone—I’m not that kind of guy. The raw fury of the rapist is a powerful force. I stand on the beach and look westward, trying to catch a glimpse of Milwaukee. 

The Writer: Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over six hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad, including THE COMMONLINE JOURNAL. He has been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize. 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. He’s been married for 39 years to the artist Concetta diGesu, and has two adult sons. He lives in Denver.

The Artist: Myles Katherine is a fine art photographer and painter based in Portland, Oregon. She specializes in medium format black and white film photography using a Holga GCFN. Her work includes double exposures and graphic layering that creates a surreal and ghostly atmosphere.Her work is mostly influenced by dreams, psychological conflict and personal attachment. By emphasizing the power of concepts such as social isolation, death, and memories she hopes to unravel a vulnerability in each viewer and force them to recognize and overcome their own psychological struggles. You can see more of her work at