Mark J. Mitchell – Five Poems


Lunar Time

The moon is almost ready:
Movable feasts mesh
and lock together
like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

The moon is not quite ready:
She must stretch and wax
and dust off all those secret names
she left hidden in the dark.

When the moon is perfectly ready
she will wash the world in white.
She will be mistress of the sky and
she will accept our presents.

The Mirror Game

Lost mirrors forgot
your dust. Too shallow
to hold your face, the glass caught
you like a disease and passed
you on—slow
as a kiss—the last
kiss the mirror gives to you. Not
final, but the last you sought.


Watchet the silk was
. .—Robert Herrick

The sliver of white light
as day comes close to night
hovers while you look due
west down this vacant street.
It lurks under your sleep
dividing black from blue.

It seems like someone’s name
that’s not explained.
You can’t name it or call it
on this spring-summer night—
some phantom that won’t bite—
You can only watch it.

Spirit Level

Her door slipped past time, soft as watered silk—
a liquid cymbal ringing cold and gold.
Each night she propped it open and moon milk
leaked through it. She passed time like water—silk
soft—from mouth to hand. She would let it spill
without dripping. Blond stains formed on her soul.
No door passed through her days. She watered silk
with liquid symbols. It bloomed—soft and gold.

Fragment After The Latin Of Propertius

Elegy II, 15

Oh happiness! Oh night! Oh star! And you–
The bed our pleasure has made holy!
What things we said to each other by lamplight

and what intertwining bodies
Yes, she attacked me, her naked breasts swaying,
her underwear falling, trying to pin me to the mat.
It was her lips that kissed open my tired eyes
and said ‘hey, lazy, are you asleep?’
What holds our arms tried. How constant
were the kisses that lingered on our lips.


Author’s Statement on Beauty

Just before the winter solstice, about 5:30 pm, I am standing on top of a double-decked tourist bus crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. I am the guide. That’s my job. I have to do this to make a living.

Beauty should be necessary.

It is very cold, but this makes the air very clear. The clear air hits the faces of the two brave souls riding with me. It is like being slapped with ice.

Beauty should have a personal price.

The new darkness is changing the Marin Headland from green mountains into the ghostly bones of long forgotten creatures.

Beauty should contain transformation.

To the starboard side, there is an island called Angel, the firefly lights of Sausalito begin to flicker on. The campanile on the UC Berkeley campus is white against the fresh evening.
Beauty should have a wide embrace.

The Bay Bridge leaps from Oakland bright as a seabird, reaching the island to breathe and then—

The full moon rises behind the western span, dressed in the amazing Bay Lights. The bay itself is suddenly silver, painted by the Goddess Herself and the breath is sucked out of us.

Beauty should be divine.

Then finally, I look back at San Francisco, her holiday dress on, ready for the night, filled with stories underway and waiting to happen.

Beauty should always have potential energy.

And at her Oz-colored center, is my home, and the person I have been in love with for forty years.

Beauty should cradle love.


Mark J. Mitchell studied writing at UC Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver, George Hitchcock and Barbara Hull. His work has appeared in various periodicals over the last thirty five years, as well as the anthologies including Good Poems, American Places. He is the author of two full-length collections, Lent 1999 (Leaf Garden Press) and Soren Kierkegaard Witnesses an Execution (Local Gems) as well as two chapbooks, Three Visitors (Negative Capability Press) and Artifacts and Relics, (Folded Word). His novel, Knight Prisoner, is available from Vagabondage Press and two more novels are forthcoming: A Book of Lost Songs (Wild Child Publishing) and The Magic War (Loose Leaves). He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the documentarian and filmmaker Joan Juster, where he makes a living showing people pretty things in his city. More at: