Monday, May 26, 2014

Update. Two links.

Recently, I have had work appear on two very cool sites. Below are the links to my work but I encourage you to check all the other work on both sites, very very good stuff. I'm just honored to be included with such quality literature. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Sunflower Story

Jesse S. Mitchell

from the book, Simon
available here and here

and read the review in "Prick of the Spindle' by Wilna Panagos here

Nothing really quite captures the quiet of life, the soundless expanse of undisturbed air that surrounds, the brief breezy notes that flutter nearly unnoticed past unappreciative ears.  There are not proper words to describe it and there are not proper shapes or images to illustrate it.  No songs or stories or murals, novels or films that bring it close.  The truth is, everywhere is exceedingly quiet and beneath the quiet, carefully concealed, is everything…all the noises and colors and living creatures.  A super still surface of sound, a glassy still surface like water.  Touch it and it makes ripples, hit it and it makes splashes, jump in and it makes a reverberation, a crash, a hum…echoes riding outward toward the ends of the Earth, past the limits of sight, round Planets, cosmos, cold dying stars and bending, blending refracted light, and comes back and thuds hard against the side of your head with a distinct ring.
Simon is about to make a ripple.  Sitting on his crisscrossed legs and barefoot in the dry, brown, cracked, over-tall grass, he looks to his left and counts the copper pipes stacked up in a haphazard pyramid. They are collecting heat and reflecting light.  He has just finished digging deep into the awful, dusty, hard ground.  A perfectly round hole, sides steep.  Inside the hole he piled little rocks and gravel.  He mixed up rock powder, dirt and water.  He made a deep red paste and filled the hole flush and let it dry…mostly.  Before it could set forever he grabbed the longest copper pipe and jabbed it hard into the mixture.  He twisted it and put direct pressure on the top, driving it in deeper.  He wiped off his hands and stood up, admired the dark green-red patina on the surface of all the different lengths of pipe…every one a slightly different color, a slightly different size, but he would make them fit together.
Behind him he could hear noises, animal sounds coming from far down the tree, vine and moss covered/infested old abandoned lane.  There once were houses down that way, stores, buildings…nothing now but green overgrown nature and a sprinkling of yellow reflective eyes and feral sounds…enough to drive a young boy’s imagination crazy.  He never went down that way.  He wasn’t allowed and he had no desire anyway.  Life had taken over.  It was frightening, especially when you remember just what life can do.
He screwed a long thin pipe onto the one he had planted in the ground, and then another and another, using the longest and thinnest at first.  The fine yellow dust of the lower Midwest/upper South flooded into his mouth and choked him.  It collected in the corners of his eyes and under his ragged fingernails.  He pinched himself screwing and screwing and banging pipes together and instinctively put the offended digit in his mouth.  The grit felt like sandpaper and tasted like sawdust and alluvium.  He swatted at time-traveling insects that could pop in and out of existence with every swipe of his exasperated hands.  He had bites up and down his back, patches of sweat and purple-brown leg bruises.
It wasn’t long before the pipes reached high into the sky and Simon had to retreat to a little goat shed to retrieve a rickety ladder.  The ladder was missing most of the upper rungs.  Simon broke off pieces of dead and dying tree branches that littered the sides of the tan-brown field and carefully jammed them into the slots that once held the perfectly manufactured ladder rungs.  He tested them with his hands, putting pressure on each one until he felt safe.  He climbed the ladder, a bundle of extremely hot and bulky pipes under his right arm, reached the top and laid the pile gingerly at the top of the ladder.  He vigilantly and artfully began making two divergent lines of tubes, one going right and one going left.  He climbed up another step and then another and finally he stood teetering at the very top.  He wavered in the air, waiting to regain complete balance.  He looked around and watched clouds go slowly by, listened to birds, some singing, some screeching.  Looking down he thought he saw a snake.  Nervously he waited…just a stick.  He connected the two sets of pipes at the top, bent and shaped the whole construction and fashioned it into a circle, then climbed down again.
Walking slowly beneath the trees, he collected leaves, only the biggest and best and only the triangle shaped ones and only if they had a long stem still attached.  He filled his turned up shirt with them and climbed back up the ladder.  He pulled out a leaf at a time and weaved it delicately around the joints of the pipes.  Only around the joints at first but then everywhere, he weaved the leaves together and to the whole circular structure.
Finally he was out of leaves and he was out of pipes and the whole thing was done and he climbed down.  He stood in front of the figure and watched.  He waited.  He stood there for barely a fraction of a second (but it felt like a lifetime) when at last a tiny glow began to emanate out of the very center of the circle, slowly at first, but soon it grew and everywhere was bathed in bright yellow golden light.   The circle blazed like a star.  Simon stood in the light and cast no shadow.  Everywhere was brilliant again.  Everywhere was ignited again. Simon picked up a handful of the dust.
And this is how Simon restarted the sun.
And this is how Simon made his splash.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Chernobyl/Queen Anne's Lace

Jesse S. Mitchell


Little Chernobyl soul, little speck,
Little lost isotope
Little fall-out flicker
Come back into this fuzz
This buzz track
This ocean wave.
Little Chernobyl come back home
Come back home
And radiate.  

Queen Anne’s Lace

The little bullet didn’t say a word
The little bullet didn’t say a word
The little bullet didn’t say a word
And just went bang.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Amelia part 1.

Jesse S. Mitchell

part 1 of Amelia's monologue from the play "Canaanites"
from the book  Sea Snakes

Lowlight, a few fluorescent bulbs, at least one or two bluish-green and only on the far left side.  A slight ethereal glow.  Folding chairs and tables folded and stacked and leaned against the back stage wall like the inside of an unused convention hall.  One table set up in the middle of the stage amidst clutter.  On the table a young blonde woman wearing black framed glasses leans back, the speaker (Amelia).  She should be dressed in almost old-fashioned clothing, definitely not modern..  She sits up straight and swings her legs to the side of the table. And jumps down and stands in the middle of the stage looking toward the audience.

Amelia:  “I don’t think we have to discuss our location.  This isn’t a heaven or any other place and it certainly ain’t livin’.  But what does it matter, to be where no one knows you’re there or not to know where you are?  One leg in anonymity  and the other in total oblivion (she touches her legs, right and then left) and I’m leaning on this one (taps lightly her left leg) more heavily every day.  I feel like Hatshepsut looking back down on a revolving, revolting world, nothing but defaced statues, noses all knocked off, to show for twenty plus years of accomplishments.  Hatshepsut?  Don’t know the name?  Not surprising, anonymity and oblivion.  Anonymity and oblivion.  Let’s me try a little exercise, just for my own erudition, enjoyment, indulge me.  Let me ask you if you have ever heard of say, Rameses or Tutankhamen maybe?  Yeah?  A slave driving megalomaniac pyramid builder and a teenage boy who accomplished little but  inadvertently  killing Howard Carter and becoming the subject of a Steve Martin parody song.    Hmm.  How about Empress Maria Theresa?  Nothing?  How about Franz Ferdinand?  Yeah, well, he got himself shot…so.  If I ask about the Tudors, say, who comes to mind?  The murderous, heavily appetited  Bluff King Hal?  Or his much more efficient, level-headed daughter?  Sure, you know her name but I’ve made something of my point.  (pause)  Anonymity and oblivion.  But it’s all waste anyway, wasted time or whatever that means.  You take seconds from a minute but it doesn’t diminish the hour, take hours from the day but the years roll on, pile up behind you, stacks and waves of whole wasted time, they roll up on you and over you and carry you away, carry you under, drown you in the weight.  But it doesn’t matter if your brave, or strong, or pretty, or clever.  It all just passes.  They say the only thing that makes a difference is if you are rich but not really.  Everything still just passes.  And no one is ever anything without some sacrifice of some other aspect of life.  Rich only at the cost of love or pride or time, clever only at the cost of fun or pleasure or money.  Everything is up and down, crests and troughs.  Booms and busts.  Here come the waves to crash down upon us.  One should endeavor for a peaceful ocean when one is charting out their life, the calmest calmest ocean, a mirror reflection of the sky, bright blue and glassy and serene.  (pause) Shekinah.
I went to a séance once…just to see if they could hear me.  Try to get noticed. They never do.  I go all over the place.  All over the world. Séances, toll booths, the backs of ambulances, corporate sales meetings, dancing through the ethers, a wild tether to something other.  (pause) Not that I advocate such involvement in arcane practices of the occult.  And it does help to have something of some heft to say.  But everything so far has proved so pointless, heedless, reckless and unnecessary, the ways of life, drifting and coiling through…avoiding the rough patches, shedding some skin on the bits you do happen to rub against.  Madness.  Silence.  The deafening noise.  Serenity.  More silence.  Anonymity and oblivion. (pause)
I had a dream, there was darkness everywhere.  I was the color blue, a thin line of cerulean on a Wassily Kandinsky painting, hanging on an empty wall of a long empty hall of a dark deserted museum. And I was moving.   I went careening around the canvas, bending around smears of gold and blending in and out of crimson triangles and tangles, weaving up and down the black dotted spine.   The sound of my traffic over the picture was similar to voices, voices singing, instruments playing, folk music.   I would go whipping right up to the edges but suddenly I would turn and lurch back down the sides and shot into the center and start outward again.  Nothing was holding me back and I had both the speed and power to jump right over the side and spill like blue spray all over the empty white wall and go shooting out into freedom.  There was no boundary.  There was no sentry.  No fences and no obstructions.  I could have easily done this thing but I got the sense that I didn’t desire it.  (pause) The loneliness of the dream doesn’t surprise me.  The anamorphic nature of it is no shock.  But the apprehension of autonomy, the trepidation and lack of desire for bursting out, no passion whatsoever for freedom, I find that to be a most startling aspect.  I think about the dream often.  (pause)   Amelia holds her hands out in front of her, outstretched, flat and looks them over, turns them over.  Raises her eyebrows, shrugs. 

Still looking down at her hands.  Passivity of the soul is death, no matter how dynamic that repugnance to action remains or is.  Death.  It is death.  We are made to move.  We are made to be.  We are made to live.  You and me, we two together, all of us, all of it.  It is beautiful.  The way it all flows and branches off and then comes rocketing back, the wild streams of life, thought, imagination, action, visceral life, pretty sunny days, all of that, being human.  Like a piece of art.  We are made to be.  To live.  Living steam.  Liquid flowing.  An explorer.  An astronomer.  A thick book.  A secret.  Somebody’s secret.  A good story.  (pause)  We are all made of the same parts and not in too varying of degrees or proportions.  We are basically all alike.  Nature’s equivalent.  Covered over  with skin and propped up and framed by bones, filled out with tissue.  We are all equal parts water, water and something else, fire, heat, passion, but the most important part is the water, always the water, never forget about the water and the state of it…in most people the water is frozen, all iced up and sluggish.  These people are so cold inside and languid, afraid, slow. They say to themselves, if only the sun would come out, then it would melt all this ice, gently thaw me and then…and then maybe…but there is no sun coming.  At least no other sun coming that isn’t already here, the other part, the heat, the fire, the passion, that’s your sun, that’s the thawing that you are waiting on…right there.  You are the sunrise, stupid.  But then again, in some people all that water has turned to steam…and that is a whole other kettle of fish.  Be careful, babies, just be careful out there babies and try to be kind.  I don’t have all the answers.  Turns her hands over to look at her palms.
We all have this skin… the same skin really.
Drops her hands to her sides.   Walks back to the back wall of the stage and runs her fingers over the rows of folded chairs, picks one, stops on it, reaches down and grabs it hard and pulls it up and carries it with her back to the front part of the stage.  Sets the chair up facing the audience and sits in it.  Crosses her legs and sighs.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Jesse S. Mitchell

Al mattino anemico
It’s funny how with all our different little eyes, we all see different places in the same spaces in this world
 But every night it is the same alike darkness and it is cold to all our faces when we go out on winter days.
Perception is perception but we share that chill.  Sense datum.  A big loose collection of it, spiraling and coiling and crawling up the length of your arm, reacting to the relative temperature of the air it is blown against, the amount of water, of evaporation.  Your skin blooms, hairs stand up.
Perception is perception but we share some things.
The world is round.
We as life, all came from the Ocean.
We as humans, all came from Africa.
Look around you, at the mountains, at the valleys and the wadis and the rivers,
Those are ours, those are the mountains meant to be seen my human eyes, yours and mine.
This is us.
Standing shaky trying to get our balance on a slippery ocean rock flung through vacuous space. 

And I leak like liquid, molten iron, or magma, glowing orange, translucent blazes, through the cracks and broken casements and fill in the empty mazes, supermarkets and crunchy department stores. 

Human beings.
A whole lot of collaborate noise/elaborate
Strands of sound that stream weave down the edges
And through the streets and yards and gardens
Past the trees and grass and nerve-pulsating flowers
All the little fire-breathing things that throb forth at night
And make themselves, so mosaic,  splitter parts of our eyes,
So schizophrenic
 And split,
A fracture, a rip.

But there is some fusion, some manufacture…
Among the machinery
 And in all the circuitry there is some phantom thing…
That comes burning, that recognizes the faces, that knows all the secrets
That helps us all to move about
And in certain directions,
There is something that finds our way…
Something within the robotic sea
Of sparks
And light emitting diodes
In the flares and pops
There is something ethereal
There is a ghost
When I close my eyes and imagine
And that ghost has two gigantic eyes
Because that is how I imagine death
As intense observation.
The answer.
Because everything is the question, correct and once you have the answer, why keep asking?
And that is how the spirit moves to me
Towards an end, a visible, apparent end
And that is how the ghost resides with me, all the way towards the end.
Glinting and glittering apparatus, mechanically, to the end. 

Gli atomi, ci si dissolvono
And in Rome they have the Pantheon.  Home of all the gods. All of them.  Walk right up and knock at the door, ring the bell, they’ll let you in.  You can take a good look around, even today.  Through all the deteriorating divinity, the holiness covered in holes, the grey wastes of mind expanding dust and rust that collects in the corners…too far back for any broom, the water stains and welcome tinges and tarnishes of age and wisdom and advancement.   Ooo, groans the wind and the soft breezes that come whipping around the column trees, the statuaries, and the rippling fountains that far outside the door.   All marble.  All gold.

All of us.
You can fall asleep on purpose, deliberately, slowly, comfortably
But every single one of us, more or less, awakes by surprise, with a start, suddenly
Pulled from some other reality, some other place
The dew still wet on our feet
Our heads a mess.

And the orange-red days shallow us up whole and leave behind only the grey clouds dotting the sky and our old white bones stuck in the clay. 
It is a full eternity we live in, every second, every day, one beginning and one end.  A big one.  An ever-expanding and always-contracting mass of velvety petals and leaves, blooming and waning.
It is all made slower still by the sounds of it, the irresistible silences,  not a moment to it, not a ripple over the surface…
And then it is gone.

And us, a bunch of specks floating loose in the universe, flecks called atoms, held together by mutual understandings and sciences we aren’t allowed to comprehend… until one day
And  we dissipate and dissolve back into the atmosphere. 
Electric changed particles.
All over again.

Il Kohanim dietro la finestra
Near my house was an auxiliary military airfield.  They used it often, for surplus and cargo.  It was surrounded by big vacant fields of dead brown grass, fenced around by chain link and scrubby bend back bare-barked trees.  Wispy. 
And on occasion you could spot a big olive drab Hercules come bubbling up, chewing up the air around it, or even a rare jet would burst up over the tree crowned horizon and go shrieking out of the sky.
I used to watch out my front window for the longest stretches of time.  Next to me would be my great-Uncle.   He was a priest.  He was also an atheist and a huge collector of art books and prints. 
And we would watch the planes.
Neither of us had any idea what was happening to the world.  Him, because he was old and he had lived through a lot, wars, memories of wars, scandals, and me, because I was so young, seven or eight and I had no reference point in the whole universe.  

But behind my house there was nothing, nothing but rows of houses like dominoes.
Built to fall…

Ha un accendino, per favore?

Meant to fall
Like words teeth-kicking tumbling over …

Like words scrawled on the bathroom stalls of a young laboratoriums, auditoriums, music halls,
Anywhere there is that real sound, that true speech of angels
Of those who could withdraw but instead stay here with us out of some strange otherworldly conscientious compulsion.

And then, when it would get dark and the planes wouldn’t fly too much anymore, the stars would come out.  And the sky would shine.  We would watch that for a while.

You know, stars are nothing but old balls of burning gas and waste, eventually they die.  In fact, by the time we see them in the sky, they have already died.  Phantom lights. 

But they come back again.  Reincarnation.

 And in Rome they have the Pantheon.  Home of all the gods.

A lot of talk about death and life and reincarnation.  A lot of people say “in my next life, I hope it is here or there or that I am this or that” but I have never wanted a next life, just this one.  It is sad to even imagine another one.

It’s funny how with all our different little eyes, we all see different places in the same spaces in this world.

I don’t want to leave this life to go to any other one.  I just want to stay in this one as long as I can and then…then I am through.  Gone.  And this is how we deserve to feel.  How we are supposed to feel.

And if I can do everything just right, I can someday place my hands, palms down, pressed against the glass of this Earth and feel it, really feel it, and then dissipate away, gone.  Dissolve into those far flung, fiery  firmaments and then when the sky starts to shine, I will come spilling back to your eyes, pure white light.