“The Dump Truck of Self” by Mitchell Grabois

“My body is a situation, a dilemma. I haul it from place to place in this wheelchair. I am a dump truck of self.”


Back in the day, I heard that Mama Cass had died choking on a ham-and-cheese sandwich. In reality, eighty pounds lighter than she’d ever been, after two weeks of standing ovations for solos she pulled from her body’s resonant well, she died of a heart attack in her sleep. It was in a London flat on loan from the singer Harry Nilsson. She could not put de lime in the coconut that night. She could not call him in the morning.


On the top floor of the art museum, I look through a low window slit, medieval in its narrowness. Directly across the street from where I sit, the county jail is full of performance artists. Crimes were their performances.

My body is not a performance. My body is a situation, a dilemma. I haul it from place to place in this wheelchair. I am a dump truck of self. Without eagerness, without dread, my kidneys wait to fail. They are as bleak and friendless as the slushy parking lots nearby at Sports Authority Stadium.


My blood is heavy with uric acid. Some suffer gout, but kidney stones are my Cross. I take allopurinol to lower my level. My body is a temple whose paintings have been defaced and whose marble altars have been stolen, but the thieves have left dozens of books I’ve written or have yet to write. My body bulges with them and, somewhere in time, a great-grandchild waits to find them, read them, and ponder my existence and her own.

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois‘s writing appears in magazines worldwide. Nominated for numerous prizes, he was awarded the 2017 Booranga Centre (Australia) Fiction Prize. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and as a print edition. His poetry collection, The Arrest of Mr. Kissy Face, published in March 2019 by Pski’s Porch Publications, is available here.

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