The Works of Mark J. Mitchell

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, it has also been nominated for both Pushcart Prizes and The Best of the Net. A full-length collection, Lent 1999, was just released by Leaf Garden Press. His chapbook, Three Visitors has recently been published by Negative Capability Press. Artifacts and Relics, another chapbook, was just released from Folded Word and his novel, Knight Prisoner, was recently published by Vagabondage Press and a another novel, A Book of Lost Songs is coming soon from Wild Child Publishing. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the documentarian and filmmaker Joan Juster.


All Poems © Mark J. Mitchell

JJ Holds Mac’s Hands

It was a long drive to the mountains.
It was three days of fever.
Catching up with the old kids.
Three days in bed.
It was roadside lunch and laughter
and three days of flu.
It was getting there and stretching
into past and future pain.
It was all their old faces
then three days of flu for two.
It was only his old face
then sitting beside him knowing
she wouldn’t sit beside him again.
It was three days of illness.
It was a slow drive down mountains
and awkward talk with childhood friends
leading into three sick days.
It was coming home, falling into bed
With the memory of her hand on his,
burning, like three days of flu.

The Language of Chess

Out past the rookery, four tenderfoot Boy Scouts
hiked through daytime straight into new night.
Stars almost stung them, outside Bishop, where desert
meets queenly Sierras. They talked of nothing
as princes will when they explore the kingdoms
that only they see. The lights from Bishop
blinked on below them. The night was pricked
with sharp points. Rooks croaked, circling skyward. Invisible.


Soren Kierkegaard Does Not Speak in Parables

Idly twisting his glass, watching small
bubbles climb over each other, he smiles,
as wan as ever. You like it when he calls.
He’s grown thinner, almost transparent while
you’ve thickened. “There’s a story you should hear,”
he begins. “Rest easy, silence is my dear
servant, my tool. You won’t get the tale
from my mouth, but you should know it.” He strikes
a match, forms his face into vees. His pipe
becomes an altar. He breathes deep, exhales.

“Ideally,” he says, “someone of substance
would tell it, gloss it.” Always a sermon
from him. His faith’s a leap, a comic dance—
he knows that. You listen, but his talk’s done.
He’s had nothing to say for so long his
low voice sounds rusted. You consult pages
and footnotes. Still, his empty glass remains—
the ash, the smoke—this absence is the ghost
his absence preaches. He’s gone, you’re not lost.
He scatters his hints. He never explains.