Monday May 29

DanielleMitchell Danielle Mitchell is one of ten up-and-coming poets featured in Pop Art: An Anthology of Southern California Poetry. Her work has appeared in Cease, Cows, Four Chambers Press, & Mixed Fruit among other magazines & anthologies. Danielle directs The Poetry Lab in Long Beach, California where she also curates the Stranded Artist Series, a visiting writer’s workshop and reading that hosts poets from all over the US. Danielle is an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers & the University of Redlands. Visit her online here.

Imposter & Imposter

a Rorschach image

A husband is a labyrinth. Made of trees that clone themselves into forests & my sister drapes along such trees like the nests of spiders that look like soft spiraling steps. We see a ruined mountain lion on the side of road. My sister shrugs at it, she has already wandered in him for a decade. Decorated his five-point antlers with baby’s breath & star gazers, she has lost everything but her debt, so this dead is nothing. There is a string we take into the labyrinth as a way get out & there’s another we thread into a snare & set behind us to catch our sisters. On the day of his heart-attack, her second husband is locked in the hospital because of a shooting. The maze is crime scene tape & elevators stopped mid-floor. How much like climbing a silent stairwell a dying husband is. The omen of him moving up the hill like a forest & the white bleep of his heart as it shrugs just This just This. We are the replicas. Another time, my sister & I, standing at the Swap Meet entrance she said If you get lost, just go deeper in. The colossal wooden doors slugged over us & I felt small but as if there were eyes on the top of my head & this is where I go to look for us. Sister & sister. Buck in crosshairs. Two black kites, tangled at the string. Dead cat, dead cat with our arms stretched out for each other.


Postcard from the House of Mirrors

I’m on a field of used-to-be grass. My cotton candy is blue & tasteless. I’m always on this field when I love you. We watch the cloud’s giant maw open, blacken & rain. The field muddies until the only place to hide is the house of mirrors. We get lost in there for hours. Not once do I call your name. I am frightened in the mirrors that don’t distort me, surprised when my face is just my face. I see the way out now. It’s across the whorl & through the do-see-do. I wish I had worn a longer skirt. You never wish me to wear a longer skirt. Your hands make up for it. There’s a man collecting tickets at the exit. You have to pay to get off the ride. You are the way I pay for it. The outside smells like horses. Everyone is eating pig’s feet & pumpkin pie. You wrap your arm around my shoulders & pretend we’ve never met. The next time we have sex will be the last time & that’s not too far off from now. We are walking down a dirt path. There’s a pond at the end of it. I smell the forget from here.


Assembling the Brother

My brother is a conveyor, revolving back to the thing that most deserts him, the woman. He is miniature fighter jets & star ships. A tiny republic. You should think of him as an everglade. Swampy edges & constant reinforcement. You should think of his bones split open learning to re-harden & see the pattern of a picket fence—it surprised all of us when he got a house, learned to garden, & made pickles. The best pickles. My brother is a surprise. There is a metal plate & nine screws in his leg from a dirt bike accident. His wrist cannot twist, his shoulder once fledged out like a wing. My brother is subtraction & a ledge. He is a carpenter, has the most miraculous hobbies. He built a dining room table & a telescope. He installs the ducts of essential air lines for NASA. He does not list his talents among these things. He is single again. His love is impossible, his dust lines everything. When I ask why he has spent his life on an awful woman, he says only that he is an awful man. You should think of him in brilliant pieces with six different color sides. He is a puzzle. My brother is the lever they pull to make all the hardships end. & begin again.