Robert Mitchum was a poet? The poems of Robert Mitchum













Cabo San Lucas

Rising early to beat the heat
a little dry from last nights booze.
We’re soon out miles from land where
the big fish roam under the sun
and stars, undisturbed by time’s
wave-measured march.

Slicing bonito for bait, the blood is
red against all the blue. Blue above
and below. The hook, hungering for
meat, shines blue in my hand as
I drop its feathered plume into the wake.

We drink beer and wait for the line to sing,
rattling off the reel like a runaway train,
tightening under the drag, burning the leather stop.
The marlin leaps, its bill skewering the sky,
carves and dances in the blue, then twists and dives.

The rod quivers in the belt. Leather biting my back
I reel and pull, the marlin leaps again,
I heave forward and rare back as fire
sweat and salt gather on my skin
A moment’s slack, a shake, the fish is free.

Why aren’t all losses as lovely as this?
Quien sabe?

For Reagan

He’ll go far, of that I’m sure
since grease and a smile
will get you a mile in this town.
People love him, but what do
they know? He’s just another
B-grade star with an A-grade grin
and a glad-hand ready for
any and all.

Fuck them all, I say. Only a few
here are worth their salaries
and the rest are mannequins
dressed for the window show.
Jesus, maybe New York was the
place, but I’d miss the beach and
the sunsets here. I’m damn lucky
even if I can’t have it all.

Out of the Past

These hills, that ocean out there, the sun
heating these roadstered streets at
noon where the young and the beautiful
pass me with their eyes empty of light
but filled with the darkness of longing.
Too often I’ve lost myself in them,
swallowed the dark draught and followed
them west, under the setting moon
to the edge of the world and oblivion
until the sun again ripples the air
above these roadstered streets
and dressed in someone elses clothes
I rise to become whoever I may be today.

The Rain

I hate the rain here. On location we’re
knee deep in fake blood and mud
and the asshole director with no soul
calls for us to make another take.

I’m going leave this all soon,
all the celebrity with its paper-moon
love and bulb popping phoniness.
There’s no space for anything but loneliness.

Sarah Vaughn 

I took the A-train uptown to hear her sing,
she said I’d be safe going in with her
but man, the looks I got. And all around
everyone looking so fine and cool
and eyes flashing out of those dark
spaces, filled with things I’ll never know.

And when she sang, it was like the moon
melting down, white pearls and black satin
and a sudden silence that only she could bring.

And Thunder Road….

Jimmy was slim.
I had a belly.
Lana Turner is dead.
And so’s Grace Kelly.
What does it matter
Fast or slow
Thunder Road
Or Vertigo?


  1. Reuel Smith says:

    one of the few poets who i can understand. Orson Wells called him “a poet with an ax”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Morgan says:

    Here are a few more by him:

    At Schwabs with Archerd

    1:30 pm and I’m already hungry, even if
    last night I had my cake and ate it too.
    Thats why were here, on these too red
    leatherette stools with their polished chrome
    stands twisting reflections of silk seamed legs.
    What burns me is this, everyone looks and looks
    but nobody sees. Here and there eyes
    are turning, orbiting in lovely sockets hooked
    into empty minds yearning yearning yearning.
    I know this empty desire, passion without heat,
    cold desolate suns over distant palms, the
    sands empty and fly ridden all the long afternoon.
    And under the moon all trace of truth is veiled,
    moist and febrile, they walk the star-strewn streets.
    The young, the beautiful, the fair.
    I could have them all, but who cares?

    The Shadow

    The shadow breathes, just as we breathe
    in and out
    expanding as the spotlight turns
    toward us, its false sun highlighting the transient,
    feckless features of the body, lifting our
    little selves to extraordinary latitudes,
    and contracting only as we dare to turn.
    To understand.
    The intoxications of desire and fear, the sweet
    silent surrender of willful stupidity lull us.
    We are drawn toward the unreal light,
    sentient moths caught in its spell, flying
    out of the dark from which
    we come, but fear to know.
    Too much light. Too little shadow.
    Skies without depth of field, flat landscapes
    of gaudy flowers, the great mountains
    mere cutouts, the sea a blue china plate
    on a sunlit wall. Yet we are pleased, and
    fat, dumb and happy even unto death, who comes
    always toward us
    dressed as a shadow
    just to keep us afraid.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Morgan says:

    One more:

    Night Window
    One gets up, goes toward his reflection in
    the night window, opens it over the rain-washed
    street to let something fresh in even as
    something stale escapes.
    The act has a mercy in it, it graces us with hope
    and an opportunity. But we miss ourselves
    in the moment, moving with resolve we
    fail to look because our acts are filled with purpose.
    Breathing the wet summer air like a fish
    out of water, turning back to bottle and ice
    upon the table. Pouring three fingers deep,
    on the rocks, enough to drown from the inside out.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Enjoyed these, courtesy of pd Lyons.

    It’s unclear to me, though. Are they written by or as Robert Mitchum?

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Morgan says:

        I wish Mitchum had cut an LP of these in the 50’s instead of his album of calypso songs.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Melody J Haislip says:

    Amazing! I had no idea of his depths. I always loved him. Now I love him even more. Thank you So much for sharing!


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