Mark J. Mitchell
Published on: 12/5/2012
The Romantic Vandal
I write her name on my shadow
And leave both behind.
Walls, sidewalks, fences—
I've tagged them all.
You've walked past her name,
Ignorant of my invisible graffiti,
But it makes you nervous,
Like an itch you can't reach.
You remember an old lover,
A face that won't form.
You sniff a familiar scent,
Look for a car you once drove.
But there's nothing,
Just a shadow
That doesn't match your shape,
With a light patch
Where a heart might be.
Published on: 12/4/2012
Improvisation on a Theme from Aragon
: Chanson du Miroir Déserte, Elsa, 1959
Here is a song from a vacant mirror
Abandoned in a hallway slightly askew
Forgotten limned with dust never quite new
Glass waits patient before tarnished silver
I watch you slip out and in arcane doors
Composing your face without ever looking
I see your tremors how your hands shook Things
That you hope are hidden are my daily lore
I'm tired of lurking glanced at but unseen
That's not your worry I always spot you
Wrapped in your smoke clouded in your youth
I hang to reflect your cigarette dream
I'd attack you but you'd never know it
I'd take the plains of your face the retreats
Hardened against hope that are your teeth
I'd conquer you with my faint blue tint
I await every post-coupling triage
When you renew your face dust off your smile
I am the only witness at this trial
A cloud a gray ghost a silver mirage
Published on: 12/3/2012
Two sons of a noble father
Share hamburgers with him
Around a familiar table,
Under comfortable light.
Everyday words spill out,
The things that continue, business,
Sports, masking fear of impermanence
Seated just across from them.
The noble sons of the sagging father
Suddenly notice that he doesn't notice.
Hearts crack. Tears hide. Sorrow
Is mundane. This is no parable.
Published on: 11/30/2012
After A War in the Middle East
So Hector's body left the field at Troy
And Achilles' followed down that low road,
Their swords left to rust, to be found by boys
Unschooled in arms, their war some episode
To study later. The boys make up games
Without Greek glory and no warrior's code.
Hecuba is dust, Priam lost. The names
Of those great ones are hollow as the earth now.
Just this bare hill's left, below it a plain
Where weapons appear while they tend dull cows.
They don't know a blind man will make a song
About how their fathers fell, about how
Their mothers were carried away as toys
For strangers just as long vanished. Wild toads
Hold more interest for these orphans. The fame
Of warriors can't be cooked. And boys, somehow,
Must eat--to grow proud, grow vicious, grow strong.