A MODALITY FOR MILES
I've heard the testimony of the horn:
A forlorn, blue prophecy
Clothed in form, speaking to me.
It whispers tinny mistakes, then it says
“These days the melody makes
Its own way. The chords just wait
In the wings. My breath must follow the snare drums.
The bass hums. Music allows
Me to come straight into now.”
And the horn goes silent. The prophet’s tongue
Was done. A drummer relents.
Once young men fade, their breath spent.
- Mark J. Mitchell 2011
“…No one brings
A tale of quiet love. The fading sound
Is blent of falling embers, weeping kings.”
The song of quiet love
Is often sung but seldom heard.
He winks it at her and she
Whistles it back his way
Until masks break and laughter
Falls like honey over their days.
Neither thinks to write out their days
(And nights are too filled with private love).
Besides, they think it could foment laughter
Or incite derision from the common herd.
They don’t think it matters anyway,
At least, not to anyone not he or she.
Sometimes, of course, it’s all too quiet and she
Will find some trick to louden their day.
He has no choice but to give her her way.
Her noise is as contagious as her love
And he knows there’s nothing he’s heard
As bright, as melting as her laughter.
When she, at times, withholds her laughter
Not out of meanness but because she
Needs some time when she’s not heard,
He feels the minutes pile into days
And curls up in the knowledge of love.
Still, he learns how much a minute can weigh.
He too has moments, ticks, his ways
That rile her to more derisive laughter
Since though quiet, it’s still a fiery love.
He’s perverse enough to keep score while she
Is content to torment him with silent days
Where his words echo heavy, unheard.
The songs of bliss and agony get heard
But not the music of ordinary ways:
Of evening kisses, of works and days
Punctuated by shopping lists and laughter.
In shrines in their hearts, she
Carries him and he carries her love.
It’s always heard, like unnoticed laughter
And he has his ways and you know she
Has hers. This love, a quiet parade of days.
- Mark J Mitchell 2011
Mark J Mitchell studied writing and medieval literature at the University of California at Santa Cruz with Raymond Carver, George Hitchcock, Barbara Hull and Robert M. Durling. His work has appeared in the anthologies Good Poems, American Places (Viking/Penguin), Line Drives (Southern Illinois University Press), Hunger Enough (Puddinghouse Press) and Zeus Seduces the Wicked Stepmother in the Saloon of the Gingerbread House (Winterhawk Press). My chapbook, Three Visitors won the 2010 Negative Capability Press International Chapbook competition and will be published later this year.