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Sample Poems by Irene Mitchell



Light Enough to Spring


In a single sprint,
just at fickle twilight when one landscape
looks like any other,
we mistook the street.

Its altitude favored us instantly, lifted
and loved us;
thus we saw the place unveiled.

A new view, a surprise encounter,
hugs the spirit

as any wife.





Venice of the Mind


I placed an X against my name
as if I were running for Viceroy
or Regent
or Tour Guide to Venice.

Psychological underpinnings aside,
I elected myself Tour Guide,
exulting in the chance to get away
from the steaming archipelago
of phony promises.

An empty suitcase is my relief,
mine to fill with other than
the day's tonnage....

Like the poison in absinthe,
I part slowly.
(Allegiance has its hold.)

Exchanging fool's gold for euros,
I embark
on the train of thought to Venice
where vaporetti yield,
and compromises are made.


Where there is speech,
there are echoes
so here is the story I want to relate:

it has been everyone's story
for some time now, but before advancing
my version
let me call your attention
to the buckle on my shoe, where it is written
in Italian, She has mistaken the street. Ha sbagliato strada.

There were expenses incurred
on this voyage that are still unpaid,
including the monies for all side excursions.

I have yet to sort out
these indelible baggage tags:

Rosecroft Avenue,
East Tenth Street,
West 107 Street, the place
where crime paid little for whoever robbed it
of eggs and a guitar,
someone from Columbia University
hard-pressed for a lark.

Now to record,
promising no lies
and minimal shock value,

what we of the old guard,
The Ancient Order of Italian Poets,
are up against;

namely, that any thought one has
and any way one puts it
is fodder for a chronicle
or a tale of love and woe,

as when someone slips a Romeo and Juliet
into your drink, a veritable Mickey.

(But be assured we are not bound for Verona.)

To say all is well in the Venice of the Mind
is to glamorize along the piazza
in sequined cap
and genuine leather cross-body bag;

then ride a vaporetto to the Lido
where bathers revel
as if all our homes were not a sinking paradise.




Chiaroscuro


White and flat as an altar,
tundra bruises against sky,
so pure
it's miraculous a thought survives.

This is distance without shadow,
without mist or gorge.
This is evanescent silence.
This is brooding.

The world is a disorderly place
of endless complexity,
cubes and cylinders on a bed of stone.
That's the beauty.

One covets a little glitter
against a darkening sky.




Winged Nike Flees the Louvre


Winged Victory of Samothrace
Parian marble sculpture, c.220-190 BC

Sun upon marble
makes a piercing adornment.
Each flame is a diamond;
there are thousands.
Nike expects a unique hello every time.

Was that your original size?
That leg looks real!

Reject the chiseled likeness
of your fellows.
You still seem limber!

How euphoric to be free
of the hammer and oil of days
identically perceived.

How existential to run with the greats
past the willows and yews.