A bottle bobs on the water.
Everyone knows there’s a message.
Everyone can see the slip of paper.
Everyone is sure the scrawled words
will confirm what they always
held to be absolutely true.

Everyone is, of course, wrong.
There’s no paper in the bottle,
There are only the remains of a label.
There’s only an ancient cryptic symbol—
Black. Crossed bones and a skull.
And there’s a little bit of air, like hope,
keeping the bottle afloat.

Mark J. Mitchell

Mark J. Mitchell was born in Chicago and grew up in southern California. His latest poetry collection, "Roshi San Francisco", was just published by Norfolk Publishing. "Starting from Tu Fu" was recently published by Encircle Publications. He is very fond of baseball, Louis Aragon, Miles Davis, Kafka and Dante. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the activist and documentarian, Joan Juster where he made his marginal living pointing out pretty things. Now, like everyone else, he’s unemployed. Mark has published two novels, three chapbooks, and two full length collections. Titles on request.