Three Poems by Mark J. Mitchell

by: Mark J. Mitchell

Mark J. Mitchell’s poems remind us to pay attention to our most precious commodity: time. On both a personal and monumental level, the losses we experience (of self, of beauty, of love) can humanize us if we pause to consider that everyone, no matter who, experiences these losses along with us.



Each clock deflects your breath. It makes time sound—
Lightly—music dropping out of clouds—
Composed in pools to return your taut face.
These nerves are facts that seconds strip. Each cold
click scars you like fierce kisses, half-recalled.
Touch your skin. This is a dance, not a race.



A tanker slices thick water.
Foghorns are silent
but fog coats your glasses.
It’s hard to make out
the empty prison.

Today the city
is dressed for church:
Respectable grays framed
by dark-leaved trees.
Come nine o’clock Saints Peter
and Paul will startle
parrots to the sky.


++++++++++++++The Names Project in Atlanta

Just behind The Silver Skillet
past the parking lot, a seamstress
works—mostly alone—Names are kept
here—sorted, folded, cataloged.
Shelves are full and there’s a backlog
of cloths. This is shrine, not a list.

While inside The Silver Skillet
timeless waitresses do the same
work as always—quickly—adept
with eggs, country ham and coffee.
One man sits— “Warm that up, sweetie?”—
about to meet his brother’s name.


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 Good Poems, American Places, Hunger Enough, Retail Woes and Line Drives. It has also been nominated for both Pushcart Prizes and The Best of the Net. 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.

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