One A.M. Concerto, Saturday
A dying man floats up into your store
on whisky tides. Elgar’s cello piece haunts
him, lifts him, propels his one perfect choice.
His wounded breath, staccato as applause,
embraces bottles. Eyes slide from the floor
back to liquids. A thin smile—petulant—
a tenor’s—betrays his sandpaper voice.
He coughs to cover your too polite pause
and points. The malt’s as old as you. “Let’s pour
some.” Shrug. “Why not.” He pays. You splash. He wants
one last adagio, one final, moist
concert recap. Nightcap. The long dark law
awaits. He seals the flask and drinks. “We’re done.”
he laughs. Shakes your hand. “It’s been a good run.”
For Anne and Todd
Form is exactly emptiness
—The Heart Sutra
The shrine at Fatima
is an empty glass box.
The devout arrive on their knees
to pray at this empty glass box.
Close by, factories churn out
statues to remember one empty glass box.
Houdini would have worshipped
the emptiness of that glass box.
And for decades comfort
flowed from this perfectly empty glass box.
Tuesday his ex-friend’s best ex-wife just calls
like 1989 never blew up.
Says coffee or some such. He hems and haws—
so he says. He meets her for a quick cup—
you using this cart? Thanks. She probes his wounds
like some evil surgeon, but she pretends
it’s about her ex, he should see him soon.
Dumb crap. But he tumbles. Sure, they were friends
once. Needs one more quarter. I can see it—
She leans forward bouncing those new fake tits.
He’s sliding down the rabbit holes. He falls
like old oak. Grab that corner. Her tuned thighs
ready to split. And he splits. Never called.
Oh, yeah— she has Pre-Raphaelite eyes.
Mark J. Mitchell’s latest novel, The Magic War just appeared from Loose Leaves Publishing. He studied writing at UC Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver and George Hitchcock. His work has appeared in the several anthologies and hundreds of periodicals. Three of his chapbooks— Three Visitors, Lent, 1999, and Artifacts and Relics—and the novel, Knight Prisoner are available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. He lives with his wife Joan Juster and makes a living pointing out pretty things in San Francisco.