Mark J. Mitchell


Cheating  on God


The ex-nun, crowned in her antler hat,
sits sad towards the front of the bus
clutching a steel pole firmly
enough to crack a crucifix.

Across from the rear door—her normal seat—
a small woman is perched beside
her large bag, tubes of paper blooming from it.
Each exit makes her hat twitch. A nun misses penance.

Two Russian men argue loud politics
or chess—the nun never knows, doesn’t care—
with windmill hands stirring overheated air
and threatening the stop cord.

She rides until children spill
out of any Catholic grade school.
Then she’ll flee, carrying their loud laughter
on her shoulders—a rock to crush her sins.




Mark. Mitchell
Mark J. Mitchell’s latest novel, The Magic War just appeared from Loose Leaves Publishing. He studied writing at UC Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver and George Hitchcock. His work has appeared in the several anthologies and hundreds of periodicals. Three of his chapbooks— Three Visitors, Lent, 1999, and Artifacts and Relics—and the novel, Knight Prisoner are available. He lives with his wife, the activist Joan Juster and makes a living pointing out pretty things in San Francisco.

A meager online presence can be found at