Poetry » Tim Mayo »


Victor of Aveyron

Speechless, Wild Child moves
namelessly through the leaves,

loping naked on all fours
knuckling the earth.

Stand up is for wanting
for reaching––sitting
for having and gnawing.

Trees have their tree-ness
sweet handfuls to pick and mouth
but no mouth sound.

Scratches crisscross the matte
smudge of his face:

the whip and lash of brush
he burrows into each night.

for his little, hairless sex
hanging like beans in a pod
he doesn’t yet know
how to pick,

he could be a girl . . . be animal . . .

or be vegetable but for the inkling
of words people mouth––sounds
which crowd around him like a net,

and their unachievable gargle
which will haunt him
until he dies.

The Black Wolf of Your Past

Suppose you do change your life,
and the black wolf,

which was once your shadow,
silently howls against this extinction.

What do you then do for this feral
darkness out of which you grew,

which has trailed you all your life
with a loyalty reserved for pets?

You see it cower, shrink back––deep
into the dog-house of your thoughts,

the long leash of its reach diminished.

What do you do for this wolf
you have fed since birth . . .

throw it a bone?

Listening to the First Cut of Mingus’ Oh, Yeah

In Hog Callin’ Blues, I don’t know who calls
the hogs at the beginning, probably Mingus,
but the intense horns immediately
crowd in like hungry porkers.

I still remember the night I saw him
at the Five Spot: the large man leaning
over his bass as if helping a child
zip his pants up from behind.

He didn’t do Hog Callin Blues that night––
not the set I was there––and I wonder
if that was the same night we left sober
so sure that someone had watered our drinks

that we stiffed the waiter––left him a dime
for a ten or twelve dollar tab?
That was big bucks, back then,
when we were sixteen and young enough
to not know better––but just brash enough

to huddle around a small, front row table
waiting to hear the great Charlie Mingus
call us little pink piglets in to feed on a riff,
then watch him hunker down and pluck
those strings like a spring chicken.

The Hermit’s Tale

I saw how the world was, how it is:
a savage, finned thing nosed me like a dog,
then shot away, uninterested;

octopi arms surrounded me
like flexing veils; bright fish postured,
and I longed for a refuge.

And so, I withdrew to this place
where, at first, breath was so precious
the heart beat wildly.

Then beside me something calcified.
I grew into it as flesh to bone
even though my ear still heard
an unrequited echo beckon.

Yes, I yearned for something more,
something soft as pulp, a bulbous
red throb beneath it all,

something not armored,
gentle––but the world fluxed,
and water blurred my vision.

Now the sea’s floor shifts with the tide.
A push-and-pull nudges me along,
rolling, rocking me,
through the rough and tumble sand,

and sand callouses everything,
though my house protects me
wherever I am.

This is where I live, what I know:
the walls of my home
swirl smaller and faster
to a point I can not see,

and the heart begins
to beat like a snail.