Sunday, June 22, 2014


Jesse S. Mitchell

Albert has had his share of adventure.  Walking along the crowded commercial street, he began to catch sight of his reflection in the shop windows.  He grimaced.  He turned his head quickly.  He allowed his mind to completely and utterly indulge itself to distract his attention away from the ghastly mirrored manifestations.  All distorted lines and exaggerated motions.  They reminded him of his mortality.  He could clearly see himself dead in them, his corpse, he could envision it by the reflections he saw.  Storefront glass windows are hideous things.

Go Bold!  Blaze trails!  Venture where no feet have ever before tread!

He could still hear those words echoing in his ears from so many many years ago.  The speaker had so much force, so much passion.  Albert cannot recall his name or image; in truth he was paying precious little attention.  It was the commencement speech at his university graduation.  It was after the war, after the army.
He had endured the worst horrors of battle.  He had lived through college.  He had survived.   It was springtime and fat buds were fit to explode flowery on the tips of all the long spindly grey-brown elbow- bent tree limbs.   It smelled like rain always, humidity-drenched breezes, a great thick cloud of life trickling along the surface of the ground.
After the speech and after all the ceremony, he and several of his classmates gathered together for a last time in the back garden of the old Daniels house.  There was no electricity and the day was becoming just another contusion stain upon a long line of deep-bruised days.  The night was rolling in and the light was slinking away shy from the accumulating abuse.   The whole crowd of them milled about, heads down, not more than twenty words said between them.  The atmosphere was glooming and Albert, wise even then, watched on with a growing sense of obligation.   He couldn’t let the last time he saw any of these people be so very dour.  It would ruin the memories and sensibilities of every single person involved.  One has to paint the picture one wants seen.  
He watched as they bought out a few small gas lantern lights and placed them around them in a safe semi-circle.   They trimmed the wicks and lit them and turned the shades all the way around.  The oscillating yellow glow grew into a wide ring and enclosed them, a little flicker flame, a quick shake-like breath, punctuated every word they uttered after that, every move they made.  They brought out some single-malt whisky and slowly began to drink, Albert quicker than the others.  He soon found himself more lubricated than was his habit.  The war sprang into his mind, then as a drunk young man loitering and now a grown man struggling to purpose, and before long he was entertaining the whole group with extravagant but mostly true stories of far off places, rice fields and Nagaland, the Burma trail, Japanese and Germans.  Most of the other lads present were younger than he, by at least four or five years and to them.  He sounded like an elder statesman.  He suddenly had gained their respect and rapt attention. He poured liquor down his throat.   He pulled a white tablecloth  from someplace and in a flash of inebriated genius wrapped it around himself and stretched out his legs and sat half-laying on the ground beneath a tall and wide majestic tree and continued deep into the night.  Wild tales, one more wild than the next.  Drunken screaming and sometimes singing, chanting long stories, they acquired an almost musical quality.  He spoke more in one night then he had in ten years before, probably.  Talked so much that his throat hurt for a week and he could barely speak at all for two full days afterward.
And soon all the young men began to drink more eagerly.  And soon they all began to tell tales.  And the lantern light spilled everywhere and the moonlight and starlight beamed down everywhere and specks and flecks of light filled every space and collected in the margins of the night.  Everywhere was intense illumination.  All things blurred.  And what was dreary before was now raucous and loud, everything was revelry and Albert was their god that night, the center of all attention.  And the great Aristophanes of Fife preached on.  A congregation of trespassers, not only trespassers on the Daniels estate but also on the face of the Earth.  For most of the young men present found themselves confused to their even existence after the brutal events of the first part of the twentieth century and everything before.  If the wages of sin were truly death, then the whole of humanity had no right to set foot on ground but…there they were, the greatest of trespassers vainly wasting their time.  Growling and howling with self-approval, mad from youth.  And the night before they all went out blazing like unwieldy flames, roaring over all the verdant and healthy expanse they were stuck-stopped caught within the spell of a thin self-conscious deep terrified young Albert Cavers.
Albert was quite the storyteller when he got going.  Albert was also a very good soldier, once he got the hang of it.  Albert has always been a ’good’ anything once he waded out into the middle of it, but as always, timidity of the currents and waves had hindered him in unfathomable ways.  Few people are born with a greater chance to immensity and magnitude than Albert Cavers, a wealthy family of education and means and him with a talent and curiosity spilling out from each and every endeavor.
But things had ruined him.
Seeing Europe in flames.  Running his fingers through the bloody  underbellies of Empire’s finest.  All those Indian jungles.  Malayan emergencies.  Whole world of troubles.  Somewhere a Bren Light ejaculated steel bullets.  Somewhere a steel-wrapped solid-bodied death machine exploded, incendiary.
But things had ruined him.
It wasn’t until he was jarred--a passing lady absent-mindedly knocked into his shoulder--that he realized he had stopped.  He was standing stationary on the street, white-knuckle clutching his briefcase.  Steady stream of human transfer breaking and splitting around him, merging again after him.  He was a crag, a rock, an obtrusion.  Imposing.
 He was caught staring face to face with himself in a shop window, smoke-stained and frosted around the edges.  A reflection.  He shivered.  Mortality.  Ghosts everywhere.
Albert could find no solace in this world.  No peace.
Go Bold!


If you could see Albert’s eyes it would help to understand.  But he keeps them hidden.  He keeps them behind thick opaque spectacles.  He claims they are weak.  The reality is, they are far from weak but instead are painfully too transparent, reflective.  Two gigantic deep blue pools deep set in his otherwise hoary face, they have the absolute appearance of water, shimmering but without trouble or ripple.  And however you meet them, that is how they will reflect back to you.  Look quickly at Albert’s face with bored dreariness and you will perceive the wooden gaze of a man awash in tedium.  No time for you.  Wrench your neck back with a parting glance of the slightest sadness, and melancholy will be written all over his expression.  Gladness, excitement, derision, deference, it doesn’t matter, Albert cannot control it and it makes all the difference in the world.  
Albert hides them away.  Albert hides most everything away as he finds that to be the most likely way to not influence his surroundings unduly.  Albert just wants to make it through this life intact.  Alive until the end of his days.
The rain weakens slightly but doesn’t stop.  He stands on a corner and waits for traffic to pass.  The air is acrid and enters his nose with a sting.  He tries to breathe through his mouth but the sweet taste of exhaust chokes him.  His hand trembles, his palm sweaty, he fears atrophy.  He clutches his briefcase with all his might.  He wishes life moved quicker.  He wishes he could settle into life, be a part of it.  He observes.  He wishes the hot dry atmosphere would find another way to rid itself of its moisture, humidity or fog perhaps.  Cowardly clouds eating up all the sunlight each and every day, little speckles of feeble thin rain falling flaccid. It is cold.  It is grey.  There is no point.
Albert’s mind becomes gripped with memory.  Memory of reality and memory of dreams, particularly a specific nightmare.   He ceases to see the world in front of him and drifts away.  He fears he is losing touch, losing his sanity, atrophy of mind.

Monday, June 16, 2014

47 Venezuela

Jesse S. Mitchell

I have a chapbook up at altpoetics.  It is available for free download.
check it out here.
and scroll through and check out some of the other chapbooks on the site.  Lots of good stuff.

that link again is


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Crocodile (from '11 people who saw the world end in Veracruz')

Jesse S. Mitchell

Cocodrilo was a flintlock, a dry fuse, a man of business even if he hadn’t always been.  He always knew this day would come.  All days come, if you live long enough.  Some kind of smile on his face.
He had learned how to survive afternoons an Earth age ago in Poland, Ohio.  A psychedelic shine, a glint grown to glow.
Now he had jetlag.  And now he was breathing in pure fumes, burned his throat, petrol breath, heartburn, stomach ache.  The television set spurted static blood, all that Nazi tarmac dust settled all over his clothes.  All the gyroscoping planets pausing.  Time. Time itself grinding to a stop, a brief halt, the orbits realign.
And then, the gears return, teeth in teeth, small wheels turning big wheels, thoughts firing, reality returning.
 A simple pull back to the right direction.  Living is slavery.  Certain mouths to feed. Certain drives to be drove.
Sipping dark beer.  Having filthy thoughts. Natural as natural, nature is alive and inhabits every body.
And this airport hotel is a hell, a jail cell, a tiny shabby prison, a prism, refracted light, multihued, with cheap wallpaper and an uncommonly comfortable bed.
He doesn’t believe in sorcery, but he does know a thing or two about surrogacy and even synchronicity and now scanning the ceiling with blundering tired eyes, watching a big hairy black spider climbing and spinning acrobatically aloft, and looking down in turn, his eyes still murmuring-exhausted, he watches a martial trail of Myrmidon ants, scent-scrawling along the edge of the floor, he is reminded of things.  Of thoughts, smells, feelings, life.
Mental images and abstractions carrying mental images and abstractions, more than double their body weight, so gymnastically, so lithely.  Small wheels turning big wheels.  The world is awash in time and ideas and the likeness of both.
But mostly the insectual displays cause him a strong olfactory hallucination.  He smells moth balls.  A certain kind of moth balls.  The ones he used to fill the pockets of his clothes with, when he would fold them up and place them in the big cardboard boxes and drive them down outside of town to the storage facilities.  Slide open the big ugly bomb bay steel roll up doors and place all the out of season stuff.
And then the smell of mold.  The mildew.  The old grease of the fish restaurant across the street.  All of it mixed together.  His hands tingled.  And then, and then, he remembered the last time, the last time he ever did that, the last time he ever went there, to those storage barns.  His eyes, still tired, felt hot, they felt hot and red, and they felt heavy.  His heart threatened to start pounding, instead went the other direction.  Subterfuge. And it barely beat at all.
But that was a whole bullshit lifetime ago.  Long long ago.
He could hear others moving around in the other rooms, the conjoining wombs, the opening and closing of the doors, the clanking and the strong confident footsteps, the shy and sly sliding of feet across threadbare carpeting.  Rugs rolled up and beaten out of  the big side windows, the housekeeping jangle and rush, the bits and grime and cleaning powder, the vacuums, the plastic garbage bags. The sound of people lugging too heavy luggage down the halls, hitting the bottoms of the walls, splintering the wood, scuffing the trim.  The fumble of keys.  The shaking of heads.
Like storms, thunderstorms, people move through this world.  But stifled storms, not much rain, just grand displays, a lot of lightning, a lot of thunder.  He could hear their thunder everywhere.  Busy day.  A lot of blustering.  A lot of noise.  Saturated with it.
He thought to himself, he was in the wrong business.  He hated to travel.  HE hated being in such close proximity  with other loud body-having flesh animals.  Too much.
But too late now.
“What this world needs is a bit more blasphemy, more heresy, a little more good old fashioned feel-good type sin.  Never did anyone any real harm, never hurt no one.  It is all this righteousness that is the real killer, all this following all the rules, it raises your blood pressure, gives ya ulcers,” he said out loud but to no one in particular. “Besides, it’s boring.”
But too late now.
He pulled off his shoes, set them next to each other at the foot of the bed.  Took off his socks, they struggled a bit, and for their reluctance, he flung them up against the wall.  Impotent.  They felt no pain.  No insult.  He unbuttoned his white dress shirt, slid it off his shoulders, the effort hurt a bit, sore back from sitting on the plane so long.  He had reached the age in his life where sitting could easily give him a sore back, or sore shoulders, or sore legs.  Standing too long could do it as well, and moving too much, hell thinking too hard.
There were aches.  There were pains.  Omnipresent.  Like a god.  All knowing.  All seeing.
He walked into the small bathroom.  Bathed in yellow tungsten light.  Pissed.  Washed his hands in the sink.  Watched the water rush around in circles in the basin and then drain away, fleeing.  He nodded.
He looked up and caught himself in the mirror.  Something about the reflection fascinated him.  He was suddenly bewitched.  There he was. It was him.  A craggy face in an unfamiliar mirror.  Old.  Rough.  Tired.  Cliff ledges, vine tripping lines, places to cling to, places to fall from.  Like landscape.  Dynamite creases for divots, wrinkles to be blasted away.  Whole mountainsides.  He put his hand on his cheek, moved it up and down.  Soft.  Flabby.  Anemic.
And then the mirror changed.  There was smoke or a smoky substance covering it.  
Some ragged skull.
Different reflections.  Different images.  Two young men, twins next to each other, Huangpu & Xbalanque.  He knew who they were from a tourist brochure he had picked up and read in the airport lobby.  Mayan gods, gourd-headed tricksters, death-killers, dismembered hope.
He raised his hand to the surface to try and touch them but they were gone but when his fingertips touched the mirror, a sensation shot through him.  Light burst out and blinded him.  He put his other hand on the mirror, whole palm against it.  He felt the quivering rippling movement.  He could feel the smoke swirl and entwine with the light and surround him and envelop him.  Engulfed.  It felt hot.  It felt peaceful.  It swirled over his whole body like the water around the sink basin.  He could feel it all fleeing and draining away and taking him with it, all the light and smoke and peace and radiance and calm.
And he grinned.
Cocodrilo smiled, and that is how he saw the end of the world in Veracruz.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


Jesse S. Mitchell

To evolve into angels
To evolve into men.
That the only thing kept in our hearts
Is coldhearted whim.
That everything changes, like vantage points
Stations of the stars.
Just a pulse.

Distant some men making distant some plans
in some faraway distant places.

Around the world I may ripple.
Around the world I may roam.

Distant the distance between the days
In some ticktock distant time
So distant, some distance
This faraway from home.
Just a urging

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Shelter Land (desert)

Jesse S. Mitchell

Don’t go out and get lost in the night, the razor sharp sides of knives-the night, in the dark, the dark of night.
It is dangerous.
Be anyone.
Best to wait for the slow hemorrhages of the sudden dawn’s light
 the bleached out  blades of early horizon, the rolling unfurling scarves of  bright,
Slavic golds and  the Celtic yellows and the Aztec reds
the bare-knuckled thread wound ’round the skies so tight.
Avoid the midnight.  The dim barely-seeing, barely breathing, rush.  All the weight of day behind you.  Avoid the crush, that crush of hard time, weighting down.  Avoid the ebbing-the tiding, the always changing, lucid dreaming.  Avoid traveling at night, it is confusing and no stars are even ever that sober, that clear to show you the way around.
Don’t go out and get lost at night.  Wait for the violentest of astonishing light.
Be anyone.
It is dangerous.  

So we will grimace an alldaysufferin’ never know no ease.  Grit our teeth and clench our jaws against the knowing of any from
Of any form of celestial wonderment.
Clench my fist.  
Of any form of wonderment.
Between two open wide mouths, this blaring hell, the noise,
 the golden tops of the sandy-maybe(hopefully)-growing fields of grain.
Magic magic wheat, tassling corn.  The stripping heat.
The cracking, peeling lips
But too, the humidity.
The hoarse throats.
But never, moonlight. Never when the dew…
But never lost in the night.
But never to go out and get lost in the dark of the night
It is dangerous.
Be anyone.