a rhyme or two
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Mark J. Mitchell




On A Theme Of Matthew Arnold’s



The scholar gypsy never moved. He stayed

as still as the center of a record.

No sound escaped him and he never prayed.


He held down the same corner everyday

without interest, without being bored—

this scholar’s a gypsy who always stays


just where you leave him and he never strays.

His eyes are gray, solid as a steel door

that keeps out sound. He never stalks his prey—


They come to him, docile as some new-spayed

puppy. They want to lick the secret lore

off this scholar. Gypsies move. He stays


right there. Women hope to lift him up. They

offer hands, coins, looks like raindrops and more

sound than he can escape. They never pray


like mantises but they hunger for play.

He avoids their elastic powers, ignores

non-scholars. This gypsy will stay,

escaping dead sounds. You don’t need to pray.



a line, (a short blue one)





Because our window leaks I have to dry

the globe by hand. It’s an old map, antique.

Am I causing an ancient drought? Killing weak

rain forests, long ago fossilized?

Can sympathetic magic really pierce

time’s curtain? Of course not, magic is just

an antic of light in afternoon dust,

or the spell of a note conjured with fierce

passion by a dead man. The rainy day

tosses fantasies against the cave wall.

It’s easy to mistake dream for the real.

It’s just a storm system coming our way

out of the shaken north and raindrops fall

on an old world. Dry it before it peels.



a line, (a short blue one)



Coffee Cantata

For JSB.


You don’t want your coffee too sweet. You want

that crisp snap—an unknown animal’s charge

through hidden landscapes. The ghosts of mountains—large

enough for lost gods. You want steam that haunts


your glasses, darkness pulling you awake

and drowning you in mystery. And that spice

you can’t quite place—a dish a strange mother made

only once. It tasted strong—not quite nice


and not safe. Swirl your spoon. There’s a lost chance

that might rise here. That makes you want to march

to seas that don’t appear on maps. Unparched

deserts call you. It’s ritual distance.

You want coffee to lead you. What you want


today is something you can’t see—a break

of birds into an impossible sky—

a girl whose face forced a window to shake

with beauty. You recall her lost, dark eyes


and nothing else. Steam rises. Odors daunt

your vocabulary. Time to forage

for words and sip the heat. You become charged

with black purpose. Morning rises, less gaunt

than your unsweet coffee. What’s left to want?



a line, (a short blue one)





Starres are poore books

—George Herbert



Don’t listen to stars today.

Draw no birth charts. Just play


games with Tarot. Look at the tree

behind your house and forget what you see.


Throw all your coins at the sky

and let them land, just as blind


as you are. You may let morning show

you crooked paths and streets, then go


wherever restless feet might lead you.

There is nothing here you must do


until some other picture-perfect day

Miss Death comes to knock on your gateless gate.



a line, (a short blue one)



Warm-Up Sonnet


Iamb iamb iamb iamb iamb

An image  metaphor  another phrase

That leads them deep into a tight verse maze

Iamb iamb trochee iamb iamb

(Hard rhymes are worth their weight in trick effects)

A bit of room here  make an open space

Where words can breathe and dance—no, erase

That—just let lines lead to what comes next:


Now change the subject, change the tone and make

A statement. Say some thing or show some thing

Related to what came before but take

Some chances—throw a kiss into the ring

Of myth or draw a lake that is a lake

And nothing else—just blue. Then make it sing.




a line, (a blue one)


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