Reid Mitchell lives in New Orleans.  Following Hurricane Katrina, he refugeed one crucial year in Hong Kong.  There he and a Hong Kong poet began work on a series of dialogues, some of which have been published in Admit2, Barrow Street, Caffeine Destiny. Poetry Monthly Magazine, and Poetry Superhighway. []  Mitchell has published some short stories as well as the novel  A Man Under Authority.  He has also published several books on nonfiction.



1. Sanctuary

Two and two-thirds red columns, roofless
House left unfinished?
Mansion in ruins?


2. Singapore River
(An answer to Mingh)

A word misconstrued
does not necessarily lose
all value

a path obscured
by leaves and words
may lead somewhere in the end

two people lost
in dark woods
may wander in circles

two lifetimes.


3. When I Imagine Us

When I imagine us
I see you, golden in Italy,
your small face peeking through Umbrian green, Tuscan dust, Sienna sienna, as
in an excited way, excitable you run ahead, one finger pointing.

Didn’t we walk, hot and dry, between blood orange and olive?

Didn’t we look down on the sea blind Homer promised would be wine-dark,
and the beach that slaughtered Athens,
and where we nonetheless smiled and kissed?

You watched me eat artichokes with garlic.
We strolled from ghetto to Pantheon,
past the Mandarin restaurant
and you announced you would kiss no more foul foreign mouths?

No, sad no.

The South China Sea does not lap Sicily
and those fish will not swim to Hong Kong to be sold in Causeway Bay.

And you? You were fighting with your sisters, washing your hair on the street,
finding out that words, even more than boys, could be playthings.

I was by myself, with passport, poetry I forget, and faint, unquenchable hope.

But when I imagine you,
I see us in Italy, between orange and olive,
your head glistening, your feet dusty.
You run with index finger pointing toward a miracle I cannot yet see
just ahead.


4. Ghost Bodies

Seducing a woman twelve time zones ahead
is like bringing a ghost to bed:
a nice thing to write about

I do not want your body without your mind
nor your mind without your body.
But seeing I may have the attention of one

I would like to swap briefly for one night,
seven years,
or most likely one long sunny afternoon
spent in Singapore or other southern port

“Physical intimacy?” you say.

I don’t want an abstraction.

That patch of dry skin,
the crooked toe,
the ears that don’t quite match,
your breath gone sour, hair hot with sweat.

I want to touch you all the places you hope that men don’t notice

in Saigon, Singapore or some other southern port
one long muggy afternoon when sweat refuses to dry.

I want your body,
perfect in its imperfection.


5. In Praise Of Youth

Show her no mercy,
younger children.
She showed no mercy to us

calling this love dry
and another fat.
Pointing out teeth that have yellowed
worse than old photographs.

Let her be humbled before she turns thirty
by teenage girls gawking on the escalators at Kowloon.

Let them say, “What does she mean by wearing that?”
as she passes down with bare midriff and blue velvet cap.

Let young girls’ eyes be her only mirrors.