Former Occupation: Wine and Spirits Expert
Current Occupation: Temporary Convention Staffer
Contact Information: 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, and Line Drives. His chapbook, Three Visitors, will be published by Negative Capability Press later this year and his novels, The Magic War and Knight Prisoner will be published in the coming months. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the documentarian and film maker, Joan Juster. Currently, he’s seeking gainful employment since poets are born and not paid.
A lone man with one hammer builds the frame.
He pounds, off beat, without rhythm. He pounds
Tenpenny nails into blond two by fours.
He sets studs, measures, adjusts. He swings
His hammer quick. He pounds. His cold, gloved hands
Recoil with shock as a hollow blow lands.
Each day, tiny wounds; each day, minute stings.
The wall comes together, a space for a door,
A window. His day is sweat, muscle, sounds
Of making four walls, no two quite the same.
AN EXTRA IN AN
PREPARES HIS ROLE
My crimes were minor—
perversions of government warnings
aggravated by misuse
of flesh. My lawyer
was murdered in court
and someone had to go away.
So now I walk the yard
with small gray men. I keep
to myself. I don’t fight,
I don’t bleed. I submit
when I have to. I know something
is in the works, but I pretend
perfect ignorance, and shuffle past.
I wonder if Travolta
will be in the shot.
It is a stainless steel
Conspiracy. A plot.
The cheese grater tilted
Onto a slotted spoon.
I have no idea
If alloys were exchanged or
Plans were hatched.
I only know that after work
Neither one could be found.
This is not a coincidence.
Coins drop like years on a palm,
Fall dead into drawers
Before they speak their history.
Bills blacken fingertips
As change is counted back.
Just another evening when money,
Like water, is turned into wine.