Mark J. Mitchell

Mark J. Mitchell was born in Chicago and grew up in southern California. His latest poetry collection, Starting from Tu Fu  was just published by Encircle Publications. Another full-length collection, Mirror Games is due out in September from Cherry Grove press.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 makes his meager living pointing out pretty things.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 at


A constant stream of strangers flows off my
starboard bow. Faces—white, dark, fade like foam
on wind. Pirate eyes miss details. Light combs
the sidewalk. It waves off the larboard side.
I walk on, hoping not to trip or fall through noon.
I hope to remember each sailor’s name—
currents of foot traffic blend them—again—
into whitecaps, rapids. I’m a small stone
that parts them without meeting as I try
 to tell what part of my damp past they’re from.
Those lost faces draw me with tidal claims
on my time. But broken light’s what remains
for a land-locked mariner. Time’s low boom
swings me about—in that wake, my lost eyes.


                                    Her shape is found everywhere. She is round,
                                    formed of basalt, amber, or hard-fired clay.
                                    Some broken by time, unbelief. Some stay—
                                     seeds sleeping, soon to rise out of damp ground.
                                    Always naked, almost faceless mother
                                    of time, she’s earth herself coming out of life
                                    and offering it. She’s as strong as strife.
                                    She can’t be escaped. One breaks, another
                                    falls, grows. The fear she carries in her hips,
                                    her belly, is forever. She rips
                                    time open. She is worshiped and unknown.
                                    You see her in museums, not a god’s wife—
                                    all gods are born from her. She’s her own throne.
                                    You can’t help but see her. Now change your life.


                                    The angel of death is easily fooled.
                                    You can pretend you’ve forgotten your name.
                                    This angel’s bound to obey his own rules.
                                    A creature of spirit, he’s never cruel,
                                    just thoughtless—to him it’s a sort of game
                                    angels must play. Death is something he fools
                                    around with—like a world or a top. You’ll
                                    never catch him serious. Fierce but tame,
                                    this angel’s bound. He likes to obey rules,
                                    to roll true dice. He enjoyed angel school
                                    more than he should. Be aware all the same:
                                    Angels don’t die, so when they’re badly fooled
                                    they plot perfect vengeance, play dirty pool
                                    with sad, lost souls, and they are sure of names.
                                    Angels are bound, true, but they won’t be ruled
                                    by stars or planets. Mortals ridicule
                                    can’t touch them. And one thing I should explain:
                                    Each angel owns one death. Though you’re the fool
                                    this angel obeys, you don’t make the rules.


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