Repetition – a poem by Mark J. Mitchell


…a poet must be torn in two in such a way as to close the way to all deceptions.
					—Soren Kierkegaard
					Journals. 1850

			The ghost arrives. He sits and starts to write.
			His sharp eyes staring from an unlined face,
			he speaks low while scribbling into the night.

			“You think,” he says, “that you leap towards light—
			you’re nimble, jumping over a candle’s small flame.
			You watch for the coming of words to write.

			You start. You stop. You see her face, her bright
			deep eyes.” You let him talk on while you place,
			without speaking, a glass, darker than night,

			of wine before him. You’re framing a fight
			you won’t have. You’d like to be sure to say
			something he’d like, something he’d want to write.

			“You don’t understand,” he keeps on, “this rite
			we repeat is a game you made up. A play.
			It’s you who speaks while I scribble all night.

			This balances your left hand and your right
			eye. You let me appear to bear the blame
			for disturbing all these words you won’t write.”
			Flame blows out. A scribbled page lights the night.


Mark J. Mitchell’s latest full-length poetry collection is Roshi, San Francisco (Norfolk Press). A novel, The Magic War is available from Loose Leaves Publishing. He studied  at Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver and George Hitchcock. His work appeared in several anthologies and hundreds of periodicals. He lives with his wife, Joan Juster, where he made his living pointing out pretty things in San Francisco. Now, like many others, he’s unemployed.

1 Comment

  1. Cynthia Pitman says:

    What a unique and beautiful poem.

    Liked by 1 person

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