Mitchell Nobis

Jacob van Ruisdael, The Jewish Cemetery 1655-60, oil on canvas, The Detroit Institute of Arts

A Jackass Looks at the Dutch & Faces a Truth

The art museum poses
problems, but one
little one every time I go:
Do I go into the modern
wing for the broad
energetic strokes that
shock & invigorate,
or do I swing by the
Dutch masters and
commiserate? Today
the Dutch won,
their sorrowful downward gazes,
the bright and the
dark twisting around each other
just as it always has,
as it always will.
Look at van Ruisdael’s Jewish
Cemetery, at bright
hope surrounded by dark death:
politicians’ bombs or sugared veins,
one truth remains.
       Something gon’ kill us all
               Time the Revelator
       Something gon’ kill us all
               Hear him riding
       Something gon’ kill us all
               Come on hear him riding
       Something gon’ kill us all
               Time the Revelator   need be no book of the seven seals

Storm & sun
same for everyone


Yet another
unarmed Black man
was killed last week
by officers sworn to protect him

& a moment ago
my Black son saw me
looking concerned &
he shrieked “I’ma get you,

Daddy!” & tackled
me in the family room, his blankie
flying behind him like a flag.
We laughed until we calmed

and we cuddled and
carpet tickled our ears and
we looked out the window and
I showed him the buds

on the big, snow-dusted maple
that looms over our yard,
explained how soon
our tree will have leaves again.

“But where the old ones?” he asked,
“the ones that gone but
were there?” and
we talked about how they’re

becoming mulch for the garden
by now, a long winter later,
how leaves were there before
but now aren’t,

how new ones are coming soon,
how what is gone
will feed us over time,
how what is gone

isn’t gone but is

Mitchell Nobis is a writer and K-12 teacher in Metro Detroit where he lives with his family and dog. His poetry has appeared in Rise Up Review, No Contact, HAD, Nurture Literary, and others, and he hosts the Wednesday Night Sessions reading series. Find him at @MitchNobis or

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Fall 2021