Three Poems

Martin A. Mitchell


Look—the sun is coming up.
We’ve burned up the entire night
pouring whiskey on our war stories,
putting out smoldering fires.
So let me play the dentist. Let me
ask if you’re numb enough
to get down to business.
Let’s clink these never-quite-full-enough
glasses together, and toast this
blurry, soothing deliverance.

About two hours ago, I think,
I wanted to reach for your hand,
but I was afraid. After a
little while, though, the fear
seemed to drift away.
But the urge to touch you
drifted away, as well,
somewhere in there. I have
dissolved a little further
into my chair.

My heart is anesthetized. And yours, too,
I believe. It wasn’t easy, but it’s done,
at least for now. And so we must act quickly,
decide and define what this thing is
that exists between us,
that connects us.

Ah, we can be brave philosophers now,
if not poets, in this murky half-light;
we’ve surely accumulated
the requisite wisdom for either,
if not both, by this time. Thus
we can fashion for ourselves
an intellectual agreement, and have a
truly transcendent bond.
Cerebral, and safe.

It was romantic nonsense,
forever the source of our separate
suffering. But now that we’ve compared
our wounds and our scars, we can be
certain of at least this much:
we’ll not be entering that arena.

No, the philosopher understands
some options are ultimately too
risky, too costly, and more trouble
than they could ever be worth.
And the poet, then, must grab hold
of this truth and hammer its message
into something, for all time.

We will move forward, with feigned
grace, beyond the roses and
the thorns, at once, in search of
less hostile objects to admire.
And we’ll maintain a cautious distance,
even when we discover these new objects,
for we really have obtained
that necessary wisdom.

But while this spell lingers, before the
rude light burns away this
mellow mist, and if we agree
in advance that there’s no great
significance attached to the act,
could I perhaps kiss you,
just once?



But now, I have no
stones to throw…
At least, none that I’m willing to
part with like that.
I could gather the ones that have been
hurled in my direction, but engaging them
again will not redeem their
sudden, newfound insignificance.
My heart has gone out of this.

And like the small children we
too often imitate, we should now just
go to our respective houses,
or hiding places,

And remain there, until we have
a better answer, if
running out of rocks
leaves us lost.


Grappled Hooks

Ah, will I ever be
any good at this?
I repeat these rituals, over and
over again, from senseless beginning
to useless end.

The earth lurches, only slightly,
only for an instant, but I
stumble long afterward,
shaken and disoriented.

I lose, and I
suffer and curse and mourn,
only to realize that I
did not want what I lost.
It is the losing itself
that undoes me,
a little at a time.


Martin Mitchell (ma.mitchell[at] lives and writes (and reads) near Dallas, Texas. His work has appeared in journals and anthologies since 1986. His poems have been recently published in two online journals, Facets Magazine and Branches Quarterly.

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