Monday 5 May 2014

3 Poems by Reid Mitchell


The clouds cry ink
in drops
I cup my hands
and catch
a catfish chiaroscuro
flopping like
a woman's hips in love.

Rush her to Su Dong Po,
in every China cook-shed
famous for losing track.
A man who fried his words
drunk red as his heart.

The catfish chides the poet.

“Why turn yourself
servant to a ghost?

“Warm your bed
with red, clean sheets.

“One time, before you die,
permit yourself
the feast.”


White bottomed wooden clouds float
Princess Moon shows sharp canine teeth,
cunning tip of tongue.

She sends her kisses waterbound.
The stream's surface freezes white.
I stay warm in my riverbed.

I danced with Princess Moon more times than one
before I tried to drown that goddess, partner
to every poet in China, in White Monkey.

The world may announce
I died besotted
but I'm a mudcat learning to breathe muck,

A river raccoon swallowing trash.
I am not the tide to rise
at the whim of Princess Moon.

I am the bewhiskered
monster of the craft of song,
one hundred hooks jutting my jaw.


Between her shoulders
she sports the Tree of Life,

Black ink reveals her spine,
nerve and vertebrae,
traced from buttocks to nape
of neck almost to reptilian brain.

My future is no banzai
to balance on the palm
of my hand.

And I cannot be bothered
to explain myself
to every ravenous fool
from whom I must walk away,

The Tree of Life, Half-Withered,
branches of nerve and arteries,
bearing no ruby apple
but blooming black
and holy.


REID MITCHELL is a New Orleanian currently teaching at Tsinghua Daxue in Beijing.  He has contributed poems to various journals including ASIA LITERARY REVIEW, CHA, IN POSSE, and PEDESTAL.  He is CHA's consulting editor.  He is also the author of one novel, A MAN UNDER AUTHORITY.

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