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Mitchell Grabois


Iraqi FOD (the wreckage of an Iraqi MiG 23 and engine) by Harley Copic

Ulysses has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from his service in Iraqistan. His buddies made the Ultimate Sacrifice, posthumously becoming holier than anyone ever expected, holy as saints blessed by Pope Francis. All Ulysses is left with is Survivor Guilt and a major case of the heebie-jeebies, relabeled into something exalted. He’s a hot mess.

How hot? Hotter than a roadside bomb. Hotter than an incoming rocket. Hotter than a fusillade of bullets. Hotter than a French whore whose nickname is Fusillade. Hotter than a tanker truck on fire.
He survived all those things, but now his naked ears are tortured by VA Nurses wetly singing, while tiny purple fishes swim laughing through Fallujah. As his mother always warned him: What’s took must be returned. And the leaden summer of the eternal war-torn desert has brought him down forever.

I didn’t go to Iraqistan, but I have my own prison, an open-air cage. I have my own Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, except that mine is unending—there is no Post about it.
The five-hundred-foot turbines hover over my house, grumble to themselves day and night like institutionalized mental patients. Sometimes they become agitated. Covered with ice in the brutal black night, they shriek in anguish. It is instantly our anguish, not from empathy only proximity.


About the writer:
Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over twelve-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. He lives in Denver.

Image: Iraqi FOD by Harley Copic (1937-2021). Oil on canvas. 34 x 48 inches. 2003. Public domain. The work depicts the wreckage of an Iraqi MiG 23 and engine at Tallil Air Base, Iraq, in April 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The artwork is among 200 pieces being donated to the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force painting by Harley Copic).

OJAL Art Incorporated, publishing since 2017 as OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters (O:JA&L) and its imprint Buttonhook Press, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation supporting writers and artists worldwide.

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