Five Poems by Mark Mayes


At no creature’s prompting,

he picked the first orange

from the tree of knowledge.

He peeled,

then shared out the segments

evenly with her.

The seeds they spat

from their innocent mouths,

and buried in the soil,

so that new knowledge might grow.

The juice it dropped

from her chin to her breast.

The juice it dripped

from his fingers

to the meeting of his thighs.

And the orange

was a small sweet sun

they had ingested,

piece by piece.

They did not speak,

each unto each,

of the knowledge

the fruit had burdened them with.

Many tired years later,

the peel yet littered

an abandoned garden

where they had once eaten.


Don’t Blame it on the River

Don’t blame it on the river,

it never asked for blood.

Its face changed

as each face tumbled.

You’ll never guess what they did, my dear.

They made metal shoes; quite artistic.

Now people stare, and listen

to tiny speakers, speaking of us.

Even worse, some write poems,

imagining the dull press of a muzzle

to the neck;

the hollow crack across the water

to another city.

How cultured they are.

Such feeling, such pity.

You must see the candles they’ve placed

where no feet would ever tread (quite pretty).

They come from far, and they draw close,

and eyes apply concern.

Most take pictures, whisper how terrible;

silently wonder why we knelt,

so passive, awaiting our turn.


moon and death note

the moon hid behind the curtain
or was it that I had hidden from her

I read about death in the lightest of terms
death the faithful friend
death the absolver of all confusion

we look at those we lost
the celebrated
whom we could never know

easier to love from far
than close

easier to love a fiction
than fact

the men who collect trolleys
at the supermarket
one stopped, it being still light,
said to the other: the moon there
and it was



The cherry-handled hairbrush,

white hairs meshed among the prongs,

stray white hairs, the last to touch.

The wooden Spanish miner.

First time away, I saw the man

carrying a bottle and a lantern.

His wooden light tunnels under the over years,

shows briefly all the lost things.

The ceramic alsatian you dusted, yet feared in life.

Tame, then as now, one ear one paw gone south.

Rolled behind care furniture,

hoovered into secrecy.

A single china rose fronts a ladder of leaves,

once of your treasure cupboard.

In whose hands now?

Under what fixtures?

4711, green and gold, near done,

the smell of Bingo night.

Chocolate, crisps, and Britvic,

on your bright-faced return,

win or no win.

Finally, and always, the photographs,

which are not things and are.


and nearing the last, in glorious pink sunhat,

shielding your smaller face above the wheelchair,

eyes careful, inward, obliquely wise.

A 99 ice-cream large in your bruised hand,

pressed to your mouth;

a cool kiss on a hot day,

covering your mouth, not earth

soft cream.

Ever still in your lilac butterflies,

that Sunday in the park, last June but one,

where you were taken,

then taken back.


Taking Care

In the dark wood


a goose reaches for grapes,

a ballerina touches her face,

an old woman sips tea.

On the top shelf

lives the crystal

and a dog

with sad eyes.

Dust will not enter.

The glass is clean.

The wood smells of polish.

Forty years

in the corner of the room.

Forty years

and a family growing,

moving out,

falling out,


These things

we care for.


Mark Mayes enjoys writing fiction and poems. He also likes to read and listens to a wide range of music. 

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