Poems by David Matthews Mitchell.

1. Death of the Poet.

[Rilke, "Der Tod des Dichters"] He's in repose. His countenance
raised, is pale and unfamiliar
on the cushion's slope, while all
the world and all-that-he-knew-of-it,
sundered from his senses now,
reverts to time's indifferent round.

Those who knew him when he was
alive, never knew how much
with all of this he merged, as one:
for these: these deeps, these meadows
and these waters were his face.

His face, oh, was of all that breadth,
which wants and woos him even now:
and here, this mask of his
is fearfully diminishing
soft as the inside of a fruit
that's open, rotting in the air.


for the Phantom Urologist

Write me a poem about
this love of ours. telephone message This love of ours is something
to be, hold it, cherish it
let it sink so, down so deep
it hibernates, that even
as when adrowse it mirrors
death still in breath it slumbers
in its fur, and when awake
will rise as such, ferocious
to fellow berry hunters’
eyes, a daily forager
oh it slaps that salmon out
and guts those seals whose airholes
tell it nourishment is here
our care is for life’s breathing.


thinking of Lu
by old Lou
Scism’s house
One day of a morning
encountered her in t-shirt
and shorts appearing early
out of fog and teetering
up over the hill open
to the world on down to see
me goggling at his helmet
dangled on one handlebar
ram’s-horn curved her hair aswirl
she smiled and on her way she
looking back at me opined
that she had seen a frog wide
eyed is this bike new to you
I asked for she’d been wiggily
wheeled actually she said dear
rabbit gentleman it’s my
dad’s bike and I avowed how
someday yes the buddings may
beyond the illusions of
romance be a mother’s dugs
see you she said goodby I
said please my lovely wobbly
one please in all pubescence
and fond strangers in the road
as your heart wears on believe
the head demands protection


The student audience around takes in
staged violence with equanimity
while from a seat not on the aisle but next
to a notebook nestled on crossed legs
that give some promise of acclivity
we concentrate upon the business a preview
as Othello chokes his ancient to the floor
and a remembrance in the end as when
Iago takes the poniard in his groin
it’s faked but we ignore its staginess
and concentrate upon real violence
so in their strangling chamber scene we see
as she’s bent backwards in her flowing nightie
her pelvis thrust toward us through its gauze
the lightly shrouded inconsistent shapes
of Desdemona her pudendum
in truth and there the superfluous lines
of her abbreviated underwear

for Lacey

In many years he’d never seen a buck
Deer dear dear all does and little ones
Today he took his customary walk
Two miles the old turnpike up and down
That ran from Stockbridge where the Christian
Indians once lived and so many a ruckus
In the woods could at other times have been
An antlered beast about its business
He’d thought upon some other trek he’d taken
Or some trespass but today he’d come
To where the road went down into a sink
Before it rose to mount on up then up
Up Mashòdack up this pagan saying
Having he’d heard to do with settling in
If temporarily together and
On walls at home where the naked women
In their effigies had been pinned up from
A life class three skilled charcoaled studies hung
Of a male all rapid strokes and mass
Implied a triptych of his species
Indeed and was it a buck he’d ask
For on his walks he leaves eyeglasses home
Where his three figures bold elusive and
All energy are in a chamber when
He sleeps and wakes and where the deer path
At the bottom of those two hills meets the road
He sees this large dog stop as challenger
Then start away its high white tail aloft
Alive it bounds off with its head a blur


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