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Mark J. Mitchell

MAHAYANA CATHOLIC

            Each morning
            I sit
            Stone still
            On a pillow
            And recite
            The Sutra on
            Loving Kindness,
            Then breathe.

            Afternoons
            I sit
            Stick stiff
            On my cushion
            And intone
            The Heart
            Of Understanding
            And breathe.

            At night
            I lie
            Worm curled
            Hiding from fears
            And demons
            And retreat
            To my old mantra:
            Hail Mary,
            Full of grace...
            Then sleep.


THE FUTILITY OF LETTERS

I dream a bowl of wine
For Li Po. The moon lights its ruby depths.
I sing to unfed dragons. He drinks,
Sketches new ghosts in old air.

He teeters, falls to his side, sleeps.
I rinse the bowl clean
With water from a nameless lake.

There’s a letter beside my companion
Written in a script I can’t read
Though I know it comes from Tu Fu.

There is no meaning here, only
The beginnings of emptiness.


Mark J. Mitchell studied writing with George Hitchcock, Barbara Hull and Raymond Carver at the University of California at Santa Cruz. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the filmmaker, Joan Juster, where he practices Zen. His poetry has appeared in kayak, Blue Unicorn, Santa Barbara Review, The New Renaissance and numerous other magazines. It has also appeared in the anthologies Line Drives, and Good Poems, American Places.