Roger Mitchell


Wearing a white tennis visor
and blue cottony windbreaker,
telling Ralph, Down, silly.
Be down, and (to herself) not so damnably
up in the face of every odd bird
out for a quick check on the world.
Over-friendly, she says, pulling a full
set of ivory teeth out of her smile.
What's it like in your life?
Asked by looking off at the bluff
and muttering something about winter.
Yes, I say, looks like a hill of weather
headed this way. Ralph has pinned some
beetle to the ground, continues winsome.


I do not know what I think this morning,
except that I do not know what I think.

Can civilization rest on so slight
a thing? If such uncertainty can be called

a thing, to begin with? What is a thing?
Is it certain? Do its molecules rest,

ever? Or do they, like the rest of us,
like thought or feeling, like the galaxies,

whirl implacably through their universes,
their separate, overlapping, half-realized

universes, not looking, not seeking,
not tending toward anything, just whirling?

What is thought in such a place? What is place,
for that matter? How far out do I go?

I lock my door at night, but not against
the thief. The thief will have his way with me

no matter what I do. I lock my door
because the click makes the world stand still,

almost. Because the click is a goodly,
snap-like sound, betokening sureness,

because the inside and the outside meet
thereat, because it is a thing to do

when there seems little else to do, because
it is a sound I make, a twig-like song,

like the click the beak of the brown creeper
makes pecking the bark upwards up the tree.


Rain falling on snow.
You at the back window.
Out there a sputter of dead sticks,
contusion of dark statics.
Here, a smooth place on the floor
marking a scrutable torpor.
Three doves and a junco sit
on the fence rail. Opening gambit
to spring. Wind pours from the south,
tearing the lip of the bud mouth.
And now, time's slow seed
bursts. Yours is the dirt it wanted.
And the yard. Yours is the one it chose to spill
into, love like a tendril.

Roger Mitchell's most recent book, Half/Mask, was published in 2007 by The University of Akron Press in 2007.  His previous book, Delicate Bait, won the Akron Prize in Poetry.  New poems have appeared recently in Poetry and The Paris Review.  A volume of new and selected poems will come out this year from Ausable Press.



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