By Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois


Only a homeless American veteran is more pathetic than a threadbare cosmonaut who’s become a welfare chiseler, waters down his mother’s vodka and staggers aimlessly through the streets of Moscow and of Saint Petersburg, searching for Rasputin or his ghost.


The pope preached love, then went away. He slipped out of the news. The elation he created was as fleeting as an orgasm.


I like my job at the zoo. I like scooping poop. It takes me back to my roots. I like feeding. I can sense the beasts’ hunger as I approach and their satiation as I depart. It’s all so much simpler than human life, with its living legacy of slavery and the brutality that barely hides under the smug smiles network news anchors.


You can never return to your ancestral homeland, nor can you return that bad hairpiece, nor your wedding dress, your Santa suit, the banjo and the mandolin you broke in a methamphetamine rage. I shall be released, you screamed, but there was no one there to say: Make it so. Instead, your mother screamed: Shut the fuck up! Your aunt screamed: You shall never be released!


Hell is neither here nor there,
Hell is not anywhere,
Hell is hard to bear.

–W.H. Auden


Sea shells bring the sea to our ears, but sand in the wind brings only the memory of painful chafing. Why didn’t my underwear ever fit right? That was the profound thought that occurred to me just before the knife was drawn.

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over a thousand of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, The Best of the Net, and Queen’s Ferry Press’s Best Small Fictions for work published in 2011 through 2015. 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. To see more of his work, google Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois. He lives in Denver.

0 thoughts on “Underwear”

  1. Kerry, thanks for regularly leaving feedback here on FewerThan500 stories. “Underwear” is one of those pieces of flash fiction that you have to read beyond the surface and look for the commonalities in each of the vignettes to capture the essence of story.

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