Mark J. Mitchell was born in Chicago and grew up in southern California. His latest
poetry collection Starting from Tu Fu will published by Encircle Publications shortly.
He is very fond of baseball, 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 two novels, three chapbooks and
two full length collections so far. Titles on request. A meager online presence can be
found at


She made her mischief. She sealed its box
with mirrors—bottom and top. She placed it, neat,
just below the cross beside her old clock.

She wished to miss it. She—sly—broke the lock
with her fingernail. She knew she'd repeat
her happy mischief, knew that no sealed box

could keep it. So she made outlines with chalk
and moved it to a sacred drawer—beside the seat
below her cross. She shifted the old clock

just so—angled perfect to almost block
her view. She could hear taunts each night, when sleep
mocked mischief and sealed her dreams. When the box

popped open, as it would, she'd start to talk
too loud and snap the clasp hard to defeat
her sin with that old cross. The creaky clock

ticked like a nun whose eyes were formed from rock
before her fall. Someday she hoped she could meet
her mischief unsealed and the mirrored box
would break like a cross, like a rusted clock.

The Process

While all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists.
—Marcel Duchamp

Timing music unspools
leading a director on a path
to glory. He hustles chess,
collecting queens and dollars
from naÏve best boys.
He moves for the kill
with a kiss of ivory and wood,
youthening with each move—
recalling soft, green parks,
concrete tables, dime store coffee.
His strange love for the game
keeps him sharp—focusing
on a character's odyssey or
the dangerous space surrounding
a misplaced bishop.
The screen goes orange, then white.
A clock ticks like a metronome.
The great man sloughs his jacket
onto, a metal chair,
knocks over the electrician's king
and announces, grandly,
"Let's cut!"

Café Scene

A naked table lit by coffee cups—
Lipstick kissed, half-empty. Lovers left
a half-hour ago. She'll need to pick up
that naked spoon, licked by coffee. Cups
can wait, she thinks, seeing bodies erupt
in another room, wishing them joy and depth,
a night table littered with empty cups,
just kissed lipstick. Sweeps the tip lovers left.

Reverse Lamaze

Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.
—Show business proverb

Memorize the maps
in your eyelids
so you'll know
where each path leads.

Open your tight fists.
Unroll your fingers and
expose those wide palms.
Accept your stigmata.

Tell every muscle, each old
bone that pain's work
is done now. Remember
you have no more use for it.

Whatever you do,
forget to breathe.

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