Sea Shells

What if the circus arrives
with the cages empty?

No lion escaped.
Every lion disappeared.

The clowns mere traces
of make up on tossed towels.

Both whips returned.
Three rings as tiny

as thimbles. The trapeze
still rattling from the foot

of the artiste. What if
the circus arrives, calliope

and all, to make camp
where the sky refuses to rain?

And the caustic sea dissolves
earrings and bandannas,

scattered rags and bones,
the pearl that was once the moon?

This is an original publication.

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Reid Mitchell, a New Orleanian, now teaches in China. His poems have appeared in various journals including Cha, Asia Literary Review, Pedestal, and In Posse. Reid’s “You Don’t Get One Thing Without The Other”“Midnight Morning” and “For J.G. Ballard” are also in Reprint.

Object(s) to bring back to life: “SMOKING IN BARS. OK, I am in mainland China, where people still smoke in bars, restaurants, and anywhere else they please. But most of the west, including Hong Kong–and worse, New York–you cannot smoke in a bar. Now, I don’t even smoke, I don’t like smelling cigarette smoke. But the idea that going out to imbibe a mild poison in order to disorient my senses requires me to be protected from another mild poison…shit! Furthermore, when I am in a bar, I am looking for and looking at women and we all know in modern times even thinking about sex is signing your Death Warrant. So if I am going to ruin my life and risk immediate death by walking over to that darkhaired, evil-looking, malicious woman from Xinjiang to buy her a Sazerac, I should be able to light her cigarette too. And damn it! She should smoke it in a cigarette holder. Bring those back too!”

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