• Mark J. Mitchell

Selected Poetry by Mark J. Mitchell

Photo Source: Flickr


Time dreamed her. She knew that like bones know pain.

She walks down long halls time offers—numb, blind,

touching every door.

She often hears rain

dripping like light before morning. Then time

will fall swift from

above her bed and claim

what she always owes.

Her gift comes unfree,

the price never shows.

Her slow fingers find

receipts, soft on her sheets, the winter-white plain

tracing her imperfect dreaming before

her alarm explodes

her towards daylight.

Her bed’s damp, with streaks of forgotten lore

(You would pay for what she gets). Hating night,

she passes on sleep for sins. Then she sets free

her hair, waiting,

hoping, always, for more.

An Unwritten Novel

Loose pages rest on his table,

neat, squared

against the corner. There’s been a war. Now peace

the radio tells him.

His last book won’t write

itself. In the smoky room he reviews

long lists of words

and is lost in school: Knees

straight, hands folded.

Teary. Alert. Contrite

for sins he can’t understand

but reviews

once a week. In the dark box, on scraped knees.

The radio calls him to work. He needs

To finish. Lights on round

dials in a square

face. The news fades to music. Songs of peace,

they say. Somewhere, a small boy learns to write.

His hands soft,

but knuckles are calloused.

War was easy,

the grown man recalls. No

reflection, just fight.

Bring them to their knees

and move on.

There was no time to put words

on neat pages.

No faceless, teary boys

searching for music

on old machines. Peace

is hard. His hands can’t trace words. He draws squares

and circles.

Knocks down piles of bad reviews.

Leaves them down. The radio broadcasts noise.

A.M. Music, Tuesday

A garbage truck squeals

the same note as

that new baby in

the front flat

who wakes up

to harmonize.


Her pelican dream never quite ended.

She felt feathers, flight, sometimes a soft tap

that oversized beak brought.

She descended

though. Clouds stuck to her skin all day. They wrapped,

cool, damp as sheets

on her undefended

shape. They seemed to desire her solid form

as payment for

birds-eye views. Untended

creatures appeared just behind her turned back

as she trolled daylight. Forgotten altars

Vanished when she looked past her long shadow.

Bestiaries came to life. She falters,

you daydream

the finale she can’t know.

Various false gods

need to be informed

when pelicans reopen their psalters.

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. His new collection, Mirror Games, is out now from Cherry Grove. 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 as a San Francisco tour guide. Now, like everyone else, he’s unemployed. He has published 2 novels and three chapbooks and two full length collections so far. Titles on request. A meager online presence can be found here. A primitive website now exists here. And now a Youtube Channel here.

If you are interested in learning more about Mark J. Mitchell, you can also find his Instagram here and his Twitter here.