Deli Destiny


On the other hand

I sometimes wondered

if I were fulfilling

my destiny

I’d been named Max after my grandfather

who owned a delicatessen in Brooklyn

a decent living

a good hideout from European hatred

anti-Jewish riots that tore villages apart


While still a young man

he died from a hernia

after lifting a pickle barrel

Who did he think he was

the Mighty Atom?


The shop was closed

my grandmother became a seamstress

Later she married a furrier

a bald man who drank schnapps

and listened to opera

The Holocaust began

Between Sisyphus and Henry Miller


My boss, Goldstein, made me Sisyphus

moving heavy pickle barrels from one end of the storeroom

to the other

with no logic that I could see

other than to keep me busy

and humiliate me


The exercise didn’t strengthen me

it weakened me

Whatever doesn’t kill you

makes you weaker


Goldstein’s daughter Eppa

made me Henry Miller

She looked like a mousy Jewish girl

but was a sexual adventurer

She’d staked me as her territory

her terrain


Goldstein enjoyed watching me struggle with the barrels

Eppa enjoyed seeing the sweat roll down my face

as she whipped me into sexual calisthenics


Between Sisyphus and Henry Miller

the gods exulted in my trials

and triumphs

Mitch Grabois was born in the Bronx and now lives in Denver. His short fiction and poetry has appeared in countless literary magazines, most recently The Doctor T.J. Eckleberg Review, Memoir Journal, Out of Our and The Blue Hour. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, most recently for his story Purple Heart published in The Examined Life in 2012. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, published by Xavier Vargas E-ditions, is available for all e-readers for 99 cents through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords (which also provides downloads to PCs).

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