Mitchell Grabois

Transcript of the Sign Language Translation of a Speech Given at the Nelson Mandela Memorial

Let burden

smoke me in the twilight

in China

here and there

and on the Staten Island Ferry

crossing the water

landing at the dock without incident

the ferry bumping the pylons softly

Let burden smoke me

like a fat Cuban cigar

in Guantanamo

here and there

Let angry Arabs return

to their camels and oil wells

Let them embrace

those metal insects

bowing to Allah

and Allah again

Let burden smoke me

in the hinterlands

in the ragged rurals of northwest Michigan

where a Mennonite fixing machinery

accidentally injects a tablespoon of grease

into his thumb

Let burden smoke me at dawn

when the world is peaceful

and a family of Sand Hill Cranes

feeds on soybeans left over from the harvest

and cares not

about the dangers posed by a grease-filled thumb

Let smoke burden me at high noon

in Pretoria

and in the middle of an American tornado

here and there

Let burden smoke me

Let smoke release its burden

in China, in Siberia

here here here here here

here and there

and let Nelson Mandela rest in peace


Mitchell Krochmalnik Grabois was born in the Bronx and now splits his time between Denver and a one-hundred-and-twenty-year-old, one room schoolhouse in Riverton Township, Michigan. His short fiction and poems have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines in the U.S. and internationally. He is a regular contributor to The Prague Revue. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, most recently for his story “Purple Heart” published in The Examined Life in 2012, and for his poem. “Birds,” published in The Blue Hour, 2013. Grabois’s novel, Two-Headed Dog, is available for all e-readers for 99 cents. Click for Kindle. Click for Nook. Click for the print edition