August 16-22, 2004: Ben Mitchell and C.P. Aboobacker

week of August 16-22, 2004

Ben Mitchell and C.P Aboobacker

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Ben Mitchell

Bio (auto)

My name is Ben Mitchell I teach writing at Landmark College in Putney, Vermont Putney is in fact a fictional place but none of the residents know it, so they continue to live their lives as if they were real.

The following work is Copyright © 2004, and owned by Ben Mitchell and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Even Now, My Dear

Even now, my dear
as longer days bring red buds
to the tip of every branch, and sparrows
dive among the melting drops
to gather seeds, revealed
by the receding ice,  I see you
in line, waiting
to pay for your sandwich You
pretend not to notice,
in that tweed coat, holding
your hat
like an estranged uncle, for
you know that long
after the sparrow dies,
the tree falls, is cut into chunks
and put into the woodstove; even the ice
turns to water, becomes mist
and dissipates, you know
that you and I, Futility,
will meet at the lunch counter You will
quietly buy me a cup of coffee No need to stand
by the wet fire escape and scream
obscenities at the stars,
for I recognize you,
your faint smile,
as the lone survivor comes to recognize
he will not make the shore,
and for the first time he sees
how the moon alights
upon a slow black ocean.

Oral History

Perhaps it’s better to lie
to our children
Tell them they’ll get worms
from eating too much sugar
Tell them things are
the way they are

because we say they are
that way
Never mind the pale woman
muttering to herself outside the diner,

the flat squirrels baked on a gray road
like potato chips in the sun,

the pungent ditches swelling
from the slaughter house, gurgling

down the concrete embankment
into storm drains, saying

no sweetie, it only looks red
because of the angle of the sun
Come inside, precious We got a new vacuum.

Only The Sound Itself

A small man in only
his underpants wandered
into the forest, one
moonless night How did he know
where the trees
were? He didn’t But
he whistled, and for years
we’ve looked at the sky, 
Saying how? And perhaps it’s
only the sound itself, hummed
on the lips of the man
at the dish-o-matic, trembling
in the ears of the woman carrying
her child on her shoulders,   
rising up behind, almost
as silence, when
the voice on the phone tells you
not to bother coming in
any more I don’t pretend
to understand, but can you
hear it — whistling always —
in the leaves?

Ode On Intimations Of Oedipus — In A Trench Coat

Everyone’s always talking about poor
.Antigone struggling under the patriarchal monolith How she clawed the smelly earth to bury her brother
.and how her mother-fucker father brought blemish
on the family with his disgusting appetite
.Poor misled man, they poked out
.his eyes, drove him screaming into the wilderness I imagine him walking through the park, in a trench coat
the sound of his red tipped cane, tapping rectangles of concrete,
.little girls snickering at the wretchedness
Thanks to Freud we focus on the mother-fucker part,
.we imagine him smearing his chest with his father’s blood
but don’t you see — this was fate —
.he was driven — driven from within — as foretold Call it ambition, the spell of sirens or simple
.testosterone I remember him cruising the strip
in his red Camaro — tearing up the pavement —
gazing in the rearview mirror — hoping people
.would notice his brand new mud flaps We could gossip
.about the fear of abandonment

how his parents sent him away on the advice
.of an oracle We could — what if? — about a happy childhood,
imagine some therapeutic conclusion, but still the drive
.was in his blood As foretold —
he hacked apart the King, placid in the oily splendor of the Queen
.Poor sick-assed mother-fucker He packed
.his eyes into his fists and badly
bleeding, set off for the wilderness Keep your Ritalin,
.your immeasurable vats of Prozac,
.this was tragedy.

August Morning

On the road, winding through
the valley, I
noticed a patch of red
and orange on one particular
branch Here it was, superb
blue sky, golden sun flooding
the emerald vale, shimmering
on every leaf like ice And so it is
again, that even now
in August’s humid glut that winter
never leaves us Sure,
snow melts, trees bud and
dangle comfortably
with green, mountains thaw
into streams that
swell past brushed fields of heather But
always the shadow
of ice is everywhere — the cracked
plastic shovel leaning
against the shed, the rusty plow
for sale on the side
of the road as I drive past — they whisper
like the obituary
of a childhood friend.

Salad Bar

She stood by the salad bar with one
attractive young man draped
over her shoulders like an afghan, smiling
dull and comfortable in his plaid shirt Several more wore iron collars with chains
running to her belt They gimped
along behind her, picking up scraps
of lettuce that fell from the salad bar She approached with a sweetness
reminiscent of flowers — honeysuckle
and dandelions Her eyelashes curved
so precisely, and it seemed as if
she could control the delicate hairs
on her forearm, each independently She stopped
before me, encouraged
me with a glance and held open the pocket
of her white and fresh
buttoned shirt I could just make out
the outline of her breasts softly
illuminated through the light cotton, as
she gestured for me to climb
into the pocket, all snug and warm, and the boys
on the chains snarled at me
silently, for they saw
how tenuously she held the chains, how
the slightest touch could cut them free.


Lucy has written her life story
on hospital placemats Twelve years, two thousand dollars a week
in soft rooms She
tried to get them typed, but the doctor
took everything He said
she would only upset herself At least
that’s what she told me that day
in the park It was that kind of sky
you get in late September – the livid blue
that only comes when every drop
of moisture freezes on apples
and the yellow blooms
of squash or pumpkin – as children yelled
over by the monkey bars I need to believe
that somewhere
someone writes it all down,
not just the atrocities — soccer fields covered
in fresh turned soil, photographs hanging
on subway kiosks — but placemats 
scribbled with crayon, yellowing
in a hospital file cabinet, as the sun sets
over trees, and the light fades on Lucy
and me and the children arguing
by the sandbox.

God Is Dead

It is written in orange paint, and
it stops me in the middle
of the brown wood bridge It fades
into light blue lichen
on the stone retaining wall — built
to support a giant maple tree
that bows over the stream. 
Along each bank the flood
has washed the earth
away from tree roots, causing
immense maples, oaks and ash
to droop in a straddling arch Sunlight
sifted through the leaves reflects
from the stream, creating ripples
on the underside of the leaves above And there
between the brilliant patches of light
on the surface, I can see
down into that other world – speckled green
and brown stones And now
on the surface, I see reflected
the undersides of those leaves
and the sunlight ripples there still, and
then it bends and shatters
at the flip of a brook trout rising
to eat a cadis fly It falls back silently
into the cool depths
of its own, green world.

Xerox Machine

When I saw you today by the Xerox machine, you
looked radiant The glow scanning across

your face Sure, you shaded your eyes, but
nonetheless, the light moved across, and I

could see your eyes, awake beneath your hand Though you
shaded your eyes, they smiled from the corners I will

never tell, our little secret, my darling, May I
call you darling, or would that be… What if,

rather, your magnificence? No? Perhaps
I should be more conventional Hello, my name is

Ben Pleased to make your acquaintance I was
watching you from over by that dumpster, as you

hung out the “open” sign on the long metal hook Anyway, I
couldn’t help but notice the trail you leave How

the tulips seem to turn to follow you What can I say, I
think about you, carry you in my heart like

mental illness Perhaps
if circumstances were different, if

you were single, if I
had more hair or lost thirty pounds, but still I

carry you like the plague No, softer than that, and
with fewer rats and corpses.

Kitchen Window

Maria Martinez visits in my dream She
floats to the window and beckons me
to follow her through the doorway, down
the brown carpet stairs into the pink
light I follow — past the swing set, past
the septic mound to the corner
of the clearing She points to a flat stone, one
I have cut the grass around for years but never
noticed She lifts the stone and points
to the black earth beneath It is dark
and ground fine like medicinal clay She peels
up a chunk and molds it into a hand pinched
cup and offers it to me and I drink the cool
water It smells of flowers I sit up,
open my eyes to the bright morning The bed
is warm My hands are cracked from the dry heat
of the woodstove In a bathrobe
and slippers, I stride to the edge of the lawn
find the rock and try to turn it But it is fixed
solid in the dirt I grab the shovel, leaned next
to the kitchen window I scrape and cut
the corners to find the boundary I find only
rock, the brown sandstone funneling ever larger
down from a tip that pokes out of the earth Wind
lifts leaves from the ground and they spin
in the air around me.

Indelible Lilacs

Certain impressions linger
in the body, linger like
the smell of new lilacs – Remember
that awkward conversation
and the little leather boots she wore
that very first night –
an almost indelible stain, so you
return to the aroma, pull it
to your chests like
a bouquet, but gently
or it mixes in desire, wilting –
see the blossoms fall in twisting
spirals Cling and hope
the dying sticks still hold
that fragrant stain And yet,
the tender thrum is always here,
the flip of her hair in the dim street-light,
the resonance of her voice, poised
and naked, before
the details – the laundry, preparing
another pan of eggs,
and the money and
the money and the money.

C.P Aboobacker


Born in Badagara of Kozhikode District, Kerala, India, in 1945 Now retired as professor of history Leading a life of reading and writing Married and father of three girls Write poems, short articles, monograms on history and literature Translate from English to Malayalam, and viceversa, one of the 14 official languages of the Republic of India Guide researches and diissertations for colleges and local bodies Latest research oriented study guided by him is “Sambavas of Meppayur Grama Panchayath- a socio-economic study” It is a study of a small set of people sparsely settling hills and forests of every part of India This particularstudy pertains to his own village local body (In passing, it may be remmebered that Dr Ambedkar considered as father of Indian constitution belongs to this tribe But he is an exception )

The following work is Copyright © 2004, and owned by C.P Aboobacker and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


Angels are a burden on my shoulders
White as snow, Cool as marble
Filling corals in creeks
Made by golden fish within sea-rocks
Pouring flower juice in sleeping men

Angels weigh heavy
Creation Existence Destruction
Paradise Inferno Purgatory
Religions Faiths

Their age is the beyond,
Before nature was created
And water, solid and air were born
Before thoughts and strains were awake
Before Sun and Moon ever rose
And any star shone
And hill and seed sprouted
Before whirlpool twirled
And hurricane raged
Before God sat on his throne
And before temples were made

Angels weigh all history
They support beyond and beneath universe
Weightless phenomena weigh heavily in them
Mountains oceans and all
Pains and pangs of victorious battles
Consolations of defeats

These angels painted flowers with blood
And poured life into them
And poured dream into them
And poured fragrance in dreams
And frightened with fragrance

When, at last, Devils surrounded temples
Angels fled in horror and fright
And came to me the poet
A new responsibility
Among unbearable duties

The angels are a burden on my shoulders

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