Jack — Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Woke at 5 a.m.
to take a neighbor
to cataract surgery

Dropped her off
went to find a McDonald’s
with Wi-Fi
but found none between here and
the Front Range
just a Jack-in-the Box

Standing at the counter
I peruse a poster
a man with a Jack head
and an athlete’s muscular arms
I didn’t get this body eating chocolate milk shakes
the caption reads
Sometimes I got vanilla

I take a table
drink bitter coffee
remember Bob W in high school
a tall skinny guy with long, lank hair and a comical face

remember his night-time raids
stealing Jack-in-the-Box heads
from drive-throughs
leaving the “restaurants”
bereft of their mascot

Some businessman would be
really pissed in the morning
but that was part of the point
There was a connection between
the Jack heads
and the US military
(Bob lectured us
as we smoked dope in his bedroom)
and the atrocities they were carrying out
in Viet Nam
It took me a couple of years before I understood

and then I became an activist member of the small cadre
of Jack head thieves

I finally got caught
(though Bob never did)
spent some time in Juvenile Detention
(what we called “Juvey”)
to my parents’ everlasting shame

An orthodontist’s son was not supposed to be in Juvey
with Mexicans and poor white trash
(but those were my friends)
A Vassar grad’s son
was not supposed to be stealing
let alone
those preposterous heads

She didn’t know that we had a Mexican connection
who was paying us well
and taking them into Mexico

where they were used as sacred objects
and prayed to
Chickens were sacrificed to them


Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over nine hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and The Best of the Net for work published in 2011 through 2014. 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 lives in Denver.