Piranha. Poem by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

The circus poster featured two beautiful girls
in a tank filled with ravenous piranha
This image appealed to the Sicilian soul
But the woman I was with
who had been on the lam
since the seventies for
being a domestic terrorist
having bombed a police station
told me that the circus manager cooled the water to nearly
freezing to keep the piranha inactive
Still, the women
who were not nearly as beautiful
as the women on the poster
looked terrified
maybe not of the toothy fish
but of the icy exposure
It was winter, which made it worse
They could not step from the tank
into Sicilian heat
They’d been waiting in a battered trailer
locked in a lesbian embrace
trying to build up some body heat
a futile act
considering how fast it would dissipate
in the icy water
Maybe the tropical piranha were just as terrified
Each ice bath threatened death
The circus owners were also scared
because piranha were expensive
They had considered replacing them with
other, less dangerous fish
and calling them piranha
but didn’t think they could get away with it
They would be discovered and ruined
So the women gingerly descended the
two metal steps from the trailer
These women were Rumanian sex slaves
who had to do what they were told
I was eating blue cotton candy when my lover
the domestic terrorist
explained all this
I could never fully accept that she had
bombed a police station
I couldn’t see her doing it
She was so soft in bed
I had met her at a gelato stand
in Agrigento
on Sicily’s rugged south coast
and we talked about flavors while the counter girl
scooped our cones
As the women submerged themselves in the
piranha tank
a cold wind whipped down from Mt. Etna
scouring us with pumice
and heavy volcanic dust
ruining my cotton candy
I threw it off the bleachers
then followed—
jumped off
the fifth row plank
I felt something give in my left knee
I picked up a fist sized rock
like the one the hobo heaved in Ironwood, the novel
by William Kennedy
I wound up
like a big league pitcher
and let fly
shattered the tank
All the piranha and the two Rumanian sex slaves
came out in a flood onto the rocky soil
The piranha flopped and the women gasped
They bled from minor glass cuts
The domestic terrorist and I each grabbed
a sex slave by the hand
and ran

Mitchell Poet
Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois’ poems and fictions have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He is a regular contributor to The Prague Revue, and has been thrice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for 99 cents from Kindle and Nook or as a Print Edition




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