4 poems by Mark J. Mitchell

brown liquid pouring on black and white ceramic mug selective color photography


For Deborah

Song, my song, raise grief to music

—Louis Zukofsky

She drinks her coffee
black and unsugared.
It is bitter on her tongue.
But this is not grief.

Day blooms off the bay
with sunlight and salt
and spring perfume in the air.
Still, this is not mourning.

When she closes her eyes
she still sees him large and her small.
Sees dancing on feet, ticklings,
jokes. She smiles at the world.

And her smile stays bright
as a beachside day, but
to her it is bitter as coffee,
unsugared and cruel to wear.

This is her grief.
The is the cruelty of her mourning.
golden gate bridge san francisco california


A low mist, fine as lace, trembles outside
the Golden Gate. The wind’s too still for songs—
taut cables stay quiet. The orange sunrise
lights a low mist, trembling lacy outside
while a counterpoint shrinking moon strums tides.
They pull away from this city, famous wanton—
Misty, finely laced, that trembles beside
her Golden Gate. Still, such a pretty song.
white ceramic cup on map


	His blood’s dieting without permission.
	It’s too rich for his body. Far too warm
	for false Spring mornings. And time’s precision
	has stretched his veins into a relief map
	without a key. He’s outlined but not formed.

	Keeping his room cool enough to store cream,
	he smiles at endless notes he never reads.
	His condition is life—a constructed dream,
	cruel as a curling brown treasure map
	with no X. He sits still, so he won’t bleed.

	He treasures his fat blood. It’s opulent
	as silk. He’s sure—if his fingers could reach,
	he’d stroke the texture. He’d trace prominent
	mountains, islands. Draw his personal map
	on his left palm. And one pure, black sand beach.

	But deceptive life bleeds though his window,
	exposing thick dust. He’ll never depart
	these rooms. There are no fresh landscapes to know.
	All the countries are carved square on the map
	his soft fingers sketch for his failing heart.

abstract wallpaper


		For herself on her Birthday

			He makes a mess—again. This time
			where they both lived, their small kitchen.
			She sees but doesn’t speak, again.
			He’ll clean some up after they dine.

			The day-to-day dance, simple rhyme
			of long love. She can’t recall when
			he didn’t make a mess. Each time
			they both cleaned the too small kitchen.

			Their passing years never confine
			his joy in looking at her when
			she doesn’t see the look. And then
			she faces him once more. She sighs.
			They kiss again, like the first time.


Mark J. Mitchell was born in Chicago and grew up in southern California. His latest poetry collection, Roshi San Francisco, was just published by Norfolk Publishing. Starting from Tu Fu   was recently published by Encircle Publications.

A new collection and a novel are forthcoming.

He is very fond of baseball, Louis Aragon, Miles Davis, Kafka and Dante. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the activist and documentarian, Joan Juster where he made his marginal living pointing out pretty things. Now, he works doing guy stuff, go figure.

He has published 2 novels and three chapbooks and two full length collections so far. His first chapbook won the Negative Capability Award.

Titles on request.

A meager online presence can be found at https://www.facebook.com/MarkJMitchellwriter/

A primitive web site now exists: https://www.mark-j-mitchell.square.site/

I sometimes tweet @Mark J Mitchell_Writer

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