Two-Part Invention, Minor Key

Two-Part Invention, Minor Key

                        Po los ojos de la monja
                        Galopan dos caballistas
                        (Across the eyes of the nun
                        Two riders galloped)
                                           —Federico Garcia Lorca
                                           Gypsy Ballads—La Monja Gitana
                        Los meutres odion el numero dos
                        (Dead men hate the number two)
                                           —Federico Garcia Lorca
                                           Small Infinite Poem

His long cold hands shouted across black keys.
Her small warm voice kissed across long white scales.
Outside a hearse bumped along cobblestones
eluding words, holding time. The lost hearse—
because a wrong turn martyred him. Undone,
turned back. Her window let a breeze reverse
form. Music held its breath. A magnolia tree—
the curtains. A song stopped. A ghost exhaled
long cold leaves, shouting at random black keys—
No voice warmed her small kiss. She stretched white scales,
trembled. Garden gates opened, stiff with rust
until they cracked. His long fingers broke notes.
Low notes dropped like rain, broken by his touch.
Her song came home and magnolia leaves rose
yesterday’s curtains—stiff, cool as her mouth—
to some sunlight blade. She turned a sharp page
hung limp. His hands hovered over sad truth,
and checks its key signature. She’d behave
trembling. The garden stayed closed, lost to rust,
until she cracked his fingers on cold notes.

                       Homage to Calvino


                                    The Great Khan lounges
                                    on a couch
                                    Italic as these words.

                                    One nightingale sings
                                    soft as rainwater.

                                    Across from him Marco
                                    the guide—not
                                    Polo the explorer—

                                    has one more thing
                                    to say in a voice

                                    clipped as an ivory pawn
                                    on an onyx board.

                                    Silence cracks
                                    Like paper porcelain:

                                    All cities, my Khan,
                                    are invisible now—

                                    people are deafened
                                    by song factories

                                    and odors are

                                    and no one can escape
                                    their tiny screen.

                                    This book
                                    slams shut.

Mark J. Mitchell was born in Chicago and grew up in southern California. His latest poetry collection, Starting from Tu Fu, was published by Encircle Publications last year. He is fond of baseball, Miles Davis, Kafka and Dante. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the activist Joan Juster, where he makes his living pointing out pretty things. A meager online presence can be found here.

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