Prisoner In A Lighthouse by Mark J. Mitchell

(unused title from Baudelaire’s notes)

The boat’s a white statue on the glass bay,
her sails flat as last night’s wine. Thin moonlight
tickles water. He turns in circles, chained
to the hot lens. He’s forced to memorize
precise longitudes of lateen-rigged masts
and antique hulls for forgotten reasons.
On Fridays, they feed him from flotsam casks.
He sleeps through blue mornings with his knees on
cool brass. Drowned sailors still trade loose rumors—
they swap lies about a bound beacon, lost
to sin. Waves whisper salty tales—blue words
to neap tides. He keeps track of misplaced coasts,
chained against light—arms wide as a mother’s—
Sail mender. Briny convict. Glass blower.

Mark J. Mitchell
Mark J. Mitchell studied writing at UC Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver, George Hitchcock and Barbara Hull. His work has appeared in various periodicals over the last thirty five years, as well as the anthologies Good Poems, American Places, Hunger Enough, Retail Woes and Line Drives. It has also been nominated for both Pushcart Prizes and The Best of the Net. He is the author of two full-length collections, Lent 1999 (Leaf Garden Press) and Soren Kierkegaard Witnesses an Execution (Local Gems) as well as two chapbooks, Three Visitors (Negative Capability Press) and Artifacts and Relics, (Folded Word). His novel, Knight Prisoner, is available from Vagabondage Press and a new novel is forthcoming: The Magic War (Loose Leaves Publishing). He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the documentarian and filmmaker Joan Juster where he makes a living showing people pretty things in his city.
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