person Mark J. Mitchell, two poems

Mark J. Mitchell’s latest novel, The Magic War, just appeared from Loose Leaves Publishing. He studied writing at UC Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver and George Hitchcock. His work has appeared in the several anthologies and hundreds of periodicals. Three of his chapbooks— Three Visitors, Lent, 1999, and Artifacts and Relics—and the novel, Knight Prisoner are available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.. He lives with his wife the activist and documentarian, Joan Juster and makes a living pointing out pretty things in San Francisco.

A meager online presence can be found at



the sky’s a pickpocket

—Vladimir Mayakovsky
Vladimir Mayakovsky: A Tragedy, Epilogue

Cool sky reached down to pick her pocket
and her birthface aches beneath too loose skin.
Always anxious to be robbed, she marks time
with tense fingers, places the old locket
under her tongue, tasting rust and loose sins.
It melts, soft as candy dipped in cool wine.

Inside, she holds tight to the lock. It
sticks, rusty as her tongue unveiling sins
to cool skies. They count them like cold dimes.
She strokes her face, feeling those loose pockets
and touching tense desires beneath tired skin.
Her fingers cause ripples that taste like time’s
slow kisses, like love that forgot her name.

Loose words tremble, anxious to fix a frame
her stolen birth can wear like candied sins.
The slow sky reaches down to play a game
with light, drawing tense lines across her skin
and dropping musical squares in waltz time.
Instead of wine, soft spells line her pockets.
Her tongue is cool. Her chest lifts the locket,
the stolen sins and her lost, unborn name.



This moon
makes things cold.
The air’s brittle
as dry twigs and
leaves crack
like snail shells.
Adam had a name
for these days.
had a name
for everything.

The fire’s
burned low and
glows red. The boys
and their wives
are quiet—
the girls, moist,
and boys are soft.
I feed
sticks to coals
and think
of my first boys.

The round one—
He laughed like lightning
and got quickly mad.
He always smelled
like dirt.
His skin was cool,
soft at his middle
but his hands were hard—
clumsy as rocks.

That other—
I never warmed
to him. He chased
that boys should do that.
He made Adam
had a nice smile,
but I never liked
that boy.

So I rock
on my heels under
a cold moon. I
feed sticks to a fire
and I wonder
if my little, round
will ever again
visit his mother.


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