by Jesse S. Mitchell

Albert has had his share of adventure. Walking along the crowded commercial street, he began to catch sight of his reflection in the shop windows. He grimaced. He turned his head quickly. He allowed his mind to completely and utterly indulge itself to distract his attention away from the ghastly mirrored manifestations. All distorted lines and exaggerated motions. They reminded him of his mortality. He could clearly see himself dead in them, his corpse, he could envision it by the reflections he saw. Storefront glass windows are hideous things.

Go Bold! Blaze trails! Venture where no feet have ever before tread!

He could still hear those words echoing in his ears from so many many years ago. The speaker had so much force, so much passion. Albert cannot recall his name or image; in truth he was paying precious little attention. It was the commencement speech at his university graduation. It was after the war, after the army.
He had endured the worst horrors of battle. He had lived through college. He had survived. It was springtime and fat buds were fit to explode flowery on the tips of all the long spindly grey-brown elbow- bent tree limbs. It smelled like rain always, humidity-drenched breezes, a great thick cloud of life trickling along the surface of the ground.
After the speech and after all the ceremony, he and several of his classmates gathered together for a last time in the back garden of the old Daniels house. There was no electricity and the day was becoming just another contusion stain upon a long line of deep-bruised days. The night was rolling in and the light was slinking away shy from the accumulating abuse. The whole crowd of them milled about, heads down, not more than twenty words said between them. The atmosphere was glooming and Albert, wise even then, watched on with a growing sense of obligation. He couldn’t let the last time he saw any of these people be so very dour. It would ruin the memories and sensibilities of every single person involved. One has to paint the picture one wants seen.
He watched as they bought out a few small gas lantern lights and placed them around them in a safe semi-circle. They trimmed the wicks and lit them and turned the shades all the way around. The oscillating yellow glow grew into a wide ring and enclosed them, a little flicker flame, a quick shake-like breath, punctuated every word they uttered after that, every move they made. They brought out some single-malt whisky and slowly began to drink, Albert quicker than the others. He soon found himself more lubricated than was his habit. The war sprang into his mind, then as a drunk young man loitering and now a grown man struggling to purpose, and before long he was entertaining the whole group with extravagant but mostly true stories of far off places, rice fields and Nagaland, the Burma trail, Japanese and Germans. Most of the other lads present were younger than he, by at least four or five years and to them. He sounded like an elder statesman. He suddenly had gained their respect and rapt attention. He poured liquor down his throat. He pulled a white tablecloth from someplace and in a flash of inebriated genius wrapped it around himself and stretched out his legs and sat half-laying on the ground beneath a tall and wide majestic tree and continued deep into the night. Wild tales, one more wild than the next. Drunken screaming and sometimes singing, chanting long stories, they acquired an almost musical quality. He spoke more in one night then he had in ten years before, probably. Talked so much that his throat hurt for a week and he could barely speak at all for two full days afterward.
And soon all the young men began to drink more eagerly. And soon they all began to tell tales. And the lantern light spilled everywhere and the moonlight and starlight beamed down everywhere and specks and flecks of light filled every space and collected in the margins of the night. Everywhere was intense illumination. All things blurred. And what was dreary before was now raucous and loud, everything was revelry and Albert was their god that night, the center of all attention. And the great Aristophanes of Fife preached on. A congregation of trespassers, not only trespassers on the Daniels estate but also on the face of the Earth. For most of the young men present found themselves confused to their even existence after the brutal events of the first part of the twentieth century and everything before. If the wages of sin were truly death, then the whole of humanity had no right to set foot on ground but…there they were, the greatest of trespassers vainly wasting their time. Growling and howling with self-approval, mad from youth. And the night before they all went out blazing like unwieldy flames, roaring over all the verdant and healthy expanse they were stuck-stopped caught within the spell of a thin self-conscious deep terrified young Albert Cavers.
Albert was quite the storyteller when he got going. Albert was also a very good soldier, once he got the hang of it. Albert has always been a ’good’ anything once he waded out into the middle of it, but as always, timidity of the currents and waves had hindered him in unfathomable ways. Few people are born with a greater chance to immensity and magnitude than Albert Cavers, a wealthy family of education and means and him with a talent and curiosity spilling out from each and every endeavor.
But things had ruined him.
Seeing Europe in flames. Running his fingers through the bloody underbellies of Empire’s finest. All those Indian jungles. Malayan emergencies. Whole world of troubles. Somewhere a Bren Light ejaculated steel bullets. Somewhere a steel-wrapped solid-bodied death machine exploded, incendiary.
But things had ruined him.
It wasn’t until he was jarred–a passing lady absent-mindedly knocked into his shoulder–that he realized he had stopped. He was standing stationary on the street, white-knuckle clutching his briefcase. Steady stream of human transfer breaking and splitting around him, merging again after him. He was a crag, a rock, an obtrusion. Imposing.
He was caught staring face to face with himself in a shop window, smoke-stained and frosted around the edges. A reflection. He shivered. Mortality. Ghosts everywhere.
Albert could find no solace in this world. No peace.
Go Bold!


Simon’s Ripples.

A review by  Wilna Panagos


An illustrated fable by Jesse S. Mitchell (Author) and Håkan Eklund (Illustrator)

Paperback: 34 pages

Publisher: Stella/Stefanya Press (November 1, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0615914810

ISBN-13: 978-0615914817

Reviewed by Wilna Panagos


The apocalypse has come and gone and here we are in Simon’s hot, dusty world with brief time-travelling insects, furtive animals and overgrown debris. And there are trees. And of course there is Simon, Simon who explores his abandoned world barefoot. Simon whose world is a mystery to him, his mind unmarred by preconception. Simon who finds things and names them anew. Simon who sits cross-legged. Simon who learns from his accumulated curiosities. Simon who is alone in this world until he meets a dog. Simon who is about to make a ripple.

Jesse Mitchell uses deceptively simple prose to weave this world and being-in-the-world, delicately layered and infused with deftly created detail, lucid and evocative, phosphorescent with its own yellow golden light. Humming under its breath with music. And of course there’s Simon, Simon who remakes his broken world, who replaces what is lost. Here all the enormous and necessary things start with something small and unsuspected.

Håkan Eklund’s idiosyncratic artworks add nuance and texture to the narrative rather than merely illustrating it, a separate window on Simon and his world rather than a snapshot of Mitchell’s window. Eklund uses the minimum of means to achieve the absolute maximum account. Strong and nimble dark lines, shivering and bending with constraint energy, an unabashed white, sparingly applied to illuminate the hot and derelict yellow and the unexpected moonlit carmine. The barest hint of the third dimension. That’s it, and it’s enough. Exactly right to reveal his singular vision of Simon’s world, simultaneously ironic and compassionate.

I was dismayed when I reached the end of this graceful and compelling tale. I didn’t want to say goodbye to Simon and leave his world, imperfect and dangerous as it might be.

But leave you must and you take with you the whispered suggestion that we can shape ourselves and restore our broken world. That, although it is a daunting task and the world with its inherent peril is precarious, “It was frightening, especially when you remember just what life can do”, but with a bit of care and luck it can be navigated and it will certainly be worth it.

“He worried he would breathe it in, even a little bit, and he was no worthy receptacle for all the beauty he saw. Even the smallest bit would probably explode him. It pressed down on him from outside, the joy, the splendour. His skinny legs shook. There was a lot to see, you just have to be alive enough to see it.”

“He put his hand up over his mouth, instinctively. He had to remember to breathe, he had to make himself remember to breathe.”




Jesse S. Mitchell

Let me trust the savages, the fierce-feral, the raw. The unsmothered and uncrushed under all the asphyxiating air, the upright-bloody beneath the sheer weight/pressure of undying atmosphere, the rocks and bits and history accumulated. The tall stacks teetering in the corners. Let me trust our teeth and claws and our bated breath. Let me trust whatever left, the beasts, all the living things. Those who lash out quickly, some times violently, move appendages wildly, thick bold arms flung out high and wide like stalks of cascading field-flame, flicker and smoke and smolder and broad shoulders and twice as fast. Silhouettes steady on bruised light of sunset horizons, something like white phosphorous etched against the sky, engraved, burns through the blood.
Got ‘the looking back so far, I can see end of the world blues’
A happy ending still, like gasoline, dredged deep from the earth, highly refined, burnin’ off all the air from out the atmosphere. Ignite.
Got our attention though.
Like a fuzz. A blur. A shattered piece of glass, dangling there like the spider web all covered over with dew in the high corner of the rickety wood awning out front the cinema building on Water St.
We imploded.
A murmur, adding up quickly. From soft to brutal.
Sahara desert, last bus out-of-town, Oaxaca, William Faulkner, all of it…

Mao Zedong, the words fall from my tongue. Over those shoebox mountains we will sail, two colors blending, two colors bending to the enter the eye.

That ol’ black soul will make you crazy.
My God! I will save your life if you will save mine. Here take hold of my hand.
I’m going to lie down here on the floor. I am going to lie down here and rest. Just for a while.
Quitting time.
Let me worry about you.
Let me be concerned.
Let me lose sleep
Let me go all the way around your edges, let me surround you but not see back in, no reflections.
Let me wait up nights for you, sitting in the window, blinds up, bathed in the yellow shaded fluorescent light from the all-night gas station.
Luminescent everywhere.
Rocks falling off of rocks. Steel rotting off of steel. Bridges crashing down. Buildings like the petit-bourgeois. Crumbling. Nothing lasts.
And this is why I worry.
Consumed by it.
The woman at the corner has a photograph of Ezra Pound in her handbag (Money and how it got that way).
I saw it as we both were waiting for the same bus.
Not a part of anything, not ripped from a book, not a tattered orphaned page of periodical
A little yellowed aged square with crumpled wrinkled edges, bend back crooks (alarm clock)
Staring up into the light from the cavernous vacuous dark.
More curious still, is that if I had the opportunity or the inclination to rob
It is the only thing I would take from her.

If you think about me at all, think about me at night
Darkest part of the day.
If you think about me at all, think about me in winter
Coldest time of the year.
Abces et entraves
Castor bean
Pools of molten lava
Ian Curtis monotone
Running through my head.
This is what I am reduced to, this is where my time has led.
Artemisia Gentileschi.
I am memory power
A pile of books
A thick bright line
Of runny paint
Of neon light
Of sun and moon shining bright
Of broken stems
Pistils threatening to fall
Petals shedding
Volcanic stall
Rotating blades
Orbiting spheres
Cosmic suspension
Appalachian apprehension
Start again.

The Habu Snake

Jesse S. Mitchell

Messianic hooligans threading through the streets, butchered planets on their minds, snow-blind and drifting up like incense smoke, heavenward, leaving dark tracks long behind.
Fire angels in-swooping, so close you can smell their ashy breath smoldering, blowing holes of steam all encompassing around.
A demon, I am a demon, a demon here to poison anything, anything that moves, crawls, breathes, lives.
Super-charged Brooks Brothers super-viruses cover over everything in great thick clouds, tall sleek glass buildings with the rotten pox, traffic drives through the open portals in space, leaving without a trace.
Frozen seas careen over the surface of the Earth, melting and thawing and cracking apart as they near the heat.
May we reign over this forever. Forever ever. May we reign forever.
Out of Hokkaido Square, they spill out, all zombie-eyed in the dead-red glare of crystal mornings, breaking singly in the fire, singed and scorched. Charred fingertips leaving dirty smeared traces over everything, fumbling brass key rings and stumbling foot steps.
The lights flash. The icebergs bobbing, cast long-lost shadows down.
Made of bones, rattling bones and sinews of steel, made of indestructible threads and strings, we go indestructible around destroying destructible things.
Styrofoam Elvis-cups resurrect broken in the crumpled down snow, magic drifts that shine piled up,
On the right side of ice, the cracks extent down for feet, we bleed through the chasms like illuminated vapours, tall boots kicking and stomping through the streets.
And in the backrooms, the neophytes and nascent hirsute boys will try in vain to seek out and find their short-lived relief with black-teeth and newly-minted-lesbian girls with red-ripe tattoos on their thighs, twisted all around, coiled together. You never know how we feel about a thing until we say we do and there will be princes of the air in the air and royalty abounds and praise-singers of the slow movements of things. Mephistophelian dreams that dance in our heads, the thoughts droop down like leaves from the Yggdrasil tree, entwined and wincing.
And heaven forbid
And heaven forbid, it grows and grows…
May we reign this way forever, forever ever, may we reign here forever.
Bankrupt. Broken and breaking. Hands cold out reaching.
Imbecile Yen-Yuan-Dollar bill, strips the skin off the palm, burns the flesh away down to the skeletal remains, brick by brick we are tumbling down.
Plastic transparency maps of the United States of America projected on the walls like jail cell doors, let this be a lesson to us. Pull back far enough and the picture becomes clear enough, let this be a lesson to us. And repeat and repeat and repeat until we go pushing, sliding through the cracks and gaps and bend-back hinges, feral floods of icy thawing slush rushing through the halls. You don’t deserve this. I don’t deserve this. We don’t deserve this. The worst words ever uttered were most likely spoke like this. Two hands in front of our faces like this. Two sobbing eyes like this. But I have a plan, a tengu-torture-fist going through the paper walls and grabbing it in the throat in the midst of this. Reaching back from all of this.
Everywhere you look, everywhere you cast your eyes, someone is busy hammering the Masada pegs in the board. Last-stand-reflections in every window, every mirror, every broken shard of glass. End of the world apocalypse steam escapes in blasts from vents underfoot, the fog obscures everything, condensation condenses and what can evaporate leeches off in huge pieces.
May we reign warm here forever, forever ever, may we reign here forever.
But we all live in yesterday, we all love yesteryear, we all live in grey, making little movments soft and slow, making handrail footprint-pathways through this snow. Billion billion blinking lights over head, stars or traffic beacons, advertizements, dead-headed signposts covered sleeping in a kind of hoarfrost and as we approach them, they respond by creaking, moving, casting their own shadows over ours with so little light left, it seems a shame to let any obscure any but the effect is charming, dashing, as we move under our own strenght slouching onward, slouching further toward Gomorrah, the Slough of Despond, Gehenna, brick wall, the end.
May we forever reign, may we forever, ever. May we forever reign over this.

Ray-gun Guyana (and Museum Life issue 1)

Jesse S. Mitchell

Come all you red-assed baboons, you motherless souls, everything complacency, all you hallucinogens and all you ghosts that contentment can spawn.
All you beaker breakers, bell-ringers, you men-o-war, come all you precipitating rain clouds, you fog bank wanders, you restless robbers, the stealers of words with jack-knife knees and the long arms spread nations wide.
This is no time for fist-swinging witticism, no time for leg-dangling bravado, no planetary agility, we cruise through the stars.
This is no place for memory showers or the big brain storms,
This rock breaking weather, white sheet blank sky, filling out the forms.
Chug chug
Chug-a chug-a
Take apart my body, sell the parts for rent
The parts for rent
Take apart my body, and sell the parts for rent
And we will drink from every bottle and live like daisies, like kings, ‘til the money is all spent.

and take a second to click on this link and check out issue one of “Museum Life” featuring several contributors to Carbon Noise Poetry.  Thanks:

(we are) earthmen

Jesse S. Mitchell

Mars ichi-san-san. Boom.
Machete blade Sidney and little Wittgenstein by my side
Side by my side. Side.
What you see is blank wall, what you see is open.
Senses are just continuous explosion
What you are is color, what you are is sound.
a part of the experience,
Everywhere around.
But we know our way around the edge of the World.
We are
A bit of
Agrammatic aphasia.

Zum Imperium

Jesse S. Mitchell

You believe in democracy, right? Of course you do, everyone does anymore. It is almost a biological requirement for human classification in the western hemisphere at this point. But do you believe it exists, that is still exists, that it ever did it exist? This is where our answers will likely diverge. Because I do not. I do not imagine we live in a necessarily democratic time or a remarkably representative one either. Democracy takes work. Hard work. Difficult work. It means before any action can take place, thoughts must be composed, words uttered (sometimes words in languages we do not want to hear or accept) and understandings reached. Our hot blood must be allowed temporarily to cool. This is problematic for our animal natures and it smacks of weakness and flaccidness to us. But it is more than that; democracy and democratic action also carries with it the unpleasant nature of tolerance and requires at its base, to work properly, an acceptance and lenience towards attitudes and behaviors we find suspect and unnerving. You know, rule by the most, rights for the rest. Even the most ugly and desperate of us. It is a hard nut.
But still, I believe in democracy and I do think it is a real possibility, and that the promise of this country was not a pre-made republic but one in the offing…after long and arduous work. Towards this future we should be working. I write a lot about forward movement and momentum, and the line from the movie ‘Annie Hall’ about sharks enters my mind. A relationship is like a shark: it must keep moving forward or it dies. I accept that and my marriage is a happy one, so I assume our shark is healthy and properly ambulatory . I think the sentiment works for society on a whole as well. We must continue to move forward or we will die. America will pass away as the America we believe it is or hope it will be. And this is how I believe in democracy, as the future of things.

I get a lot of rejection letters. (The shark lines didn’t convince you?) I have been thinking about this fact quite a bit lately. They used to bother me but now, they just seem to be a strange kind of benchmark, a landmark. They let me know where I am and what it is am doing. A compass to point out my direction and my skewed intentions. Mainly because no matter how hard I try to research magazines and presses, I always seem to end up submitting my work to the worst possible ones for me and my ‘sort of thing’. I accidentally send out a great deal of my material to journals devoted to the beauty of birds and their feathers and wild rushing rivers and autumnal splendor. No good. Ultimately, they respond in a few short weeks with a hearty ‘thank you for giving us a chance to read your work “Panache the Skin-tag”, and while we enjoyed the vast use of vocabulary, Laudanum and soap made from dried eel bones is too esoteric for us…also we are unaware of who this Gigi Allin is and why he should be mentioned with Colette so intimately together (Together? Mentioned together? In flagrante delicto is what I said. I don‘t know why I try.)
Or I manage to find a journal with a semi-interesting, almost-gone name, like ‘Retired Bus Driver Quarterly’ and I think, hey, now this may be just surreal enough to publish some of my stuff, only to wait patiently to find that ‘Retired Bus Driver Quarterly’ is just that, a trade journal for retired bus drivers and they didn’t understand a word of my e-mail and simply gave me the address for subscription complaints.

Why do these two streams of thought so closely inhabit my mind today? Well, because it becomes clearer and clearer to me everyday, that I am in the minority on most things and in most things. Even within the arts community, I operate pretty much on the very edges. In society, politically, culturally, spiritually…and because of that I must deal with a great deal of sociological rejection as it were…I know that I will never be the face of middle America, my views will never be the driving zeitgeist of civilization. I won’t make the laws, probably better that way, you have no idea what left-wing liberal hell I would bring if I were left in charge. Drugs and Gays everywhere, roaming the streets like Andy Dick. I don’t just predict this, I promise it. I’d shut down the churches, abolish the army and hide all the TVs. Guns and knives would be all gone; people would have to cut their baked potatoes with other baked potatoes. It would be madness. (I have a good friend named Bob McClanahan who always said he wouldn’t just legalize weed, he would make it mandatory. This is the kind of thing I am talking about.) But I live and I have opinions and they add up to make the wonderful tapestry that is a healthy culture. I don’t have to be in charge. I don’t have to be the only thing happening. Retired bus drivers don’t have to hear what I am saying and really that is better for both of us. But I still live here and I go along with you as we move forward (so our shark doesn’t die) and I, and every other person even slightly like me, has something to add, something you could not get anywhere else, something we need or something we are definitely going to need, for we can never discount the new challenges of the coming years. I guess what I am saying is that freedom is about choice, a lot of choice, purity of choice. Even when the choices aren’t what you would choose, you must protect and extend the availability and reality of choice. And democracy is about voice, a lot of voice, purity of voice, and even when you don’t care to hear what those voices say and even if you choose not to listen you must protect and broadcast those voices. And you have to take the whole and we have to remember that America is not done and we are not yet free, that time is coming but only if we make it happen. And in summation, we should all endeavor to be loud and free and keep our sharks moving (and stop sending me rejection letters).