Two Poems

Mark J. Mitchell

Detective Movie: Saint Peter Takes a Case
Traditional Opening

The name is Peter
though I don't use it much.
It sits dusty on the shelf
between a revolver and expired permit.
There was a time I worked
with wheels and eye, speed and lead.
I wore my honor like a loose tie but
something happened, not solid,
the soft click of a mercury switch.
It doesn't matter
I work with my hands now.

On a yawning Tuesday I,
thinking nothing at all, sat
blowing cigarette haloes,
cutting a paper angel from
a page three murder.
I had known him
(this called for a drink).
When I was Pete and he a bird:
We fought and won the world war
five times through in a vacant lot.
Hair sprouted, engines roared,
we drove through the hot nights.
Summers peeled away like skin.                             
I left, promised to write, didn't.
We'd parted friends.

The accounts were vague.
Something about a gun but
there might have been a knife.
Body in the ocean washed
ashore lonely as a cloud.
No prints. No friends. No clues.
Coroner's report due soon.

I stared back at the angel,
thinking yes, I must. But
first a cigarette, more haloes
to bury the child. I would
question dust, interview weapons.
I knew people. I could do it.
The telephone crouched, ready.
                                    I picked it up, began to dial.



Detective Movie:
What the Mute Said

In the dream there was another couple
I knew, could not name.
I can't hear your questions
the ocean sleeps in my ears.

He was a broken mirror of you.
His eyes blue roses I almost recalled.
I was his silent fire, white,
locked in a wooden room.

The gun--it might have
been the woman, but the man,
I could see his face, not
her eyes. I could not speak.

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 won the Negative Capability Press Chapbook Competition in 2010 and is currently available. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the documentarian and filmmaker Joan Juster.