Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 17
Fall 2017

Harsh Chord

by Mitchell Krockmalnick Grabois

Lew picks up his guitar
a Candy-Apple Red Stratocaster
straps it on, strums a harsh chord

An old girlfriend stole it and gave it to him
along with a big shiny kiss
Whatever happened to her?

Lew’s ma worked in a watch factory
painting radium on dials
She licked her brush to keep it pointed
All the ladies did
They giggled about their radium smiles
She passed hers on to Lew

His band plays in his garage
In the dimness Lew’s teeth light up his face 
His band mates like the eeriness
named the band “Nuclear Teeth”

They worship the old stuff
Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs
Question Mark and the Mysterians
Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators
the first psychedelic band 
In their honor Lew has learned to play the electric jug
though it’s hard on his radium lips and teeth 

Lew doesn’t go on genealogy sites
He knows who he is
Every time he looks in the mirror
every time he doesn’t brush his teeth
every time he sees an unguarded photo of himself onstage
in love with his Stratocaster and the sounds it makes
he knows who he is
and where he came from


SHJ Issue 17
Fall 2017

Mitchell Krockmalnick Grabois

lives in Denver, Colorado, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, The Best of the Net, and Best Small Fictions for work published in 2011 through 2015. His poems and fictions are widely published in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. Two-Headed Dog, his novel based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, and as a print edition.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury