Thursday, May 28, 2015

New Poems and Flash Fiction by Will Mayo

Summer evenings are good times for stories since you just have more time.  You might be waiting for your apartment to cool down so that you can get to sleep.  You might be waiting for the thunderstorms to start.  You might be traveling, waiting for sleep or the next rest stop.  Wait no longer.  Tonight I will post Will Mayo's poems and flash fiction for you.

After The Weary Trip


Will Mayo

Years ago, I used to walk many a mile.
Down to the corner store
for a bag of groceries.
Over and round about
for a beer or two.
Perhaps to Route One
or the Golden Mile
for a game of cards,
billiards, too.
Then there was always the extra mile
for a lover,
and then some.
I used to walk farther,
much farther too.
Just for the view.
Just for the sight
of that extra horizon,
that place from which wonders reside.
Today I have not walked far at all.
I have rested after a weary trip
and the miles have encompassed me.
But one day I shall walk that extra mile.
And be where wonders reside.

Falling Asleep


Will Mayo

Falling asleep is a little like
entering a revolving door.
You're never quite sure
which door you'll enter.
Where you'll leave.
Or who will come
out the other side.
Will it be the alert You,
full of chipper for the day?
Or will it be a dazed You,
never quite sure
which path you've trod,
or which road
you're really on?
In between,
the constant turning,
an incessant sliding.
A hall of glass
towards some greater desire,
some unknown fear.
the falling.
Towards an unknown door.


The highway is lonesome like a dove taking flight that never knows when to stop. It runs seemingly forever, a double-barreled, striped blue highway through the desert mesquite. As the sands shift across its shining expanse, the coyote on some far off hillock cries again, its long whine into the air sounding more than anything like a call for help from a desolate place.

In the cold light of the sun shining overhead, the road has only one traveler. The man shifts his burden back and forth across his shoulders as his red hair and beard, touched with fringes of gray, cast about in the Western wind from under the scarf and cap he purloined at some Texas town weeks ago.

At this point he does not know what state he’s in. Nor what day or year it is. He knows it’s winter in these lands, as the wind upon his brow would surely attest, and that it must have been a matter of some days and weeks since he last touched upon a settlement or saw a human face. The growth of his hair and beard show the passage of time.

Too, he is a man without a name or the will to own one. His only belongings are tucked into the backpack that eases back and forth with a shudder from the wind that sets him down, brings him forth in a continual sort of hopscotch movement more reminiscent of children and senile old men than of wanderers across the American desert.

His pockets are empty. He long ago gave up his last coin along with the wallet that begat it on a prostitute in a city that lay well afield of these forgotten lands. But that is past. He tries to brush it from the edge of his consciousness the way a dog might scratch a flea that just keeps on biting.

His one treasured possession outside of his Salvation Army clothes is a medallion clutched tightly in his left hand. It is a St. Christopher’s. He holds it so tightly the chain and coin burn into his skin, so determined is he that the wind may not claim the saint for its own. He does not trust his pockets to the endeavor; they are too tattered and full.

Though he does not remember his own name, he well remembers the name of the one woman he slept with. He calls it out to the wind now louder than even the coyote can yelp in its disorientation: “. . . Melissa . . .Melissa . . . “ He calls the name out over and over, recalling golden ivory skin, shapely curves in the dark, and an English accent more bespeaking of aristocracy than of the embrace of flesh for coin.

He recalls — clearly, as if he sees it now though his eyes are blinded from the wind — how he would visit her the first of each month, paying her visits when the government would pay its due. He saw her not just for the flesh — though there was that, too — but mainly because he saw her imperial manner, as she’d lead him up those steps as something to look up to. She’d seemed more upper crust than ever he could aspire to with his backwoods and bayou manner.

Slowly, she’d take him into her rooms, decorated not with bed but with thickly padded rugs and cushions and the smells of candles and incense. There, she’d strip him of his clothes, bathe him with ointment and rose scented water, and make love to him in all the positions forbidden by law and custom. Exhausted, they’d tumble into one another’s arms, lost amid the cushions and the smell of rose and the slowly moving Southern air. Spent until the next caller should appear at her door.

For years he saw her, unfazed by the girls who made passes at him as he’d board the bus or clear the fields for occasional work. Always he saw Ms. Melissa as something more important than all that. More important than young girls waving to him from the back of Jeeps or the women he’d grown up with, falling as they did in and out of their various marriages and affairs. Somehow, he saw Melissa as beyond all that. Something exotic and beautiful and wealthy beyond anything he could imagine.

Finally — he could remember this though he could no longer remember his name — the force of power and beauty was no longer enough to hold her in her place. The priest he’d gone to to confess his love for her had sent her out of town on a parlor charge. And “decency,” for want of a better word, had taken over the town. Ms. Melissa left Newburg on the next available Greyhound.

Now, praying not to God but to the woman he’d paid for with flesh and coin and spirit, he grips the St. Christopher’s tightly and calls out, “Melissa, where the hell are you?”

Over and over, he calls out these words. But only the howl of the wind and the coyote in the now-setting sun answers him.

Finally, angry, he tries to throw his medallion into the cold desert sands. Swings his arm back and, moving with the force of the winter storm, tosses his hand forward with all his might.

The medal doesn’t budge. As if glued in by his earlier grip, it stays as his hand, outstretched arm, and then his whole body goes skidding across the pavement.

Praying now not to the woman he’d loved but to the Lord of All Hosts, he shouts out; “God, God! Forgive me, Lord,” as he slides first to one end of the roadway and then the other, at last coming to rest off the roadway in a prairie dog field.

The little animals scurry in all directions around him, first out and then back in their tunnels, as, battered and bruised, he picks himself up, letting the tears dry on his now-hardened face.

The storm, which had not lasted quite as long as it seemed, now ceases entirely; its winds dissipated in the sounds of sagebrush and coyote. Ahead, the highway leads, its double-barreled yellow and blue pavement glimmering just slightly as the moon begins to rise over the far off horizon. He steps onto the shoulder and moves on.

Solitude’s Passing

A chair, a bench, a wooden table. Silence lays over all. Like clay, before being touched by His hand, the quiet exists. Alone, the man sits, stands, dwells in spaces torn apart. He is a thinker without a thought, a missionary without a cause.

The windows beyond the dust motes, through which the sunshine streams, open onto a garden. A garden full of beauty and sadness and all points in between. There are roses and gardenias set for the spring. And there are benches set apart in semicircle arenas for the passersby if any should choose to come. The man is a gardener. He tends to these.

On the other side of the garden and the apprentice’s shed is a high stone manse where a rich man and his companion live. Not given to the forms of silence and solitude like their gardener, they throw loud, noisy and boisterous parties, in which the revelry of the night often gives way to the destruction of the morning. The gardener dwells not on these things. He thinks only of the garden and his solitude; never of the rich man and his companion who set him apart so many years before.

One day, an elderly woman comes to visit the manse. The gardener thinks little of her. The rich man has had many visitors over the years, after all; some female, mostly male.
Still, from beyond the gardener’s shed, with its worn cot and broken mirror, he can hear the loud sounds penetrating the air -- more raucous in their own way than the parties the man and his companion are known for, though the words now are low, sharper, more sentencing to the ear. Something about a paper, a warrant, a court order; that’s all he can make out.

Then, after interminable hours, the well adorned lady emerges from the house where revelry has often dwelled upon its own destruction and will dwell no more. Silence only is here now, though it is a thunderous silence in its own way, harmful to the garden.

It is broken by the rich woman’s steps upon the cobblestoned paths to the gardener’s shed; her high heels clicking upon the stones, as her fur, jewels, and dress form undulating waves about her still - slender form, her shapely legs.

At last, she arrives at his shed, poised to knock on the door. But he is already there, standing in the doorway, running his fingers through his closely cropped hair, cut by his own hand.

They stand there, facing one another. He, skinny, dressed in worn clothes, his scraggly beard in need of trimming. She, looking exquisite in her designer dress, her fur, and all her jewels.

Finally, she speaks; her chin raised high, her lips pouting slightly.

Come, now, Alfred. Mother’s come to take you home.” She pauses a moment. “Your father’s made quite a mess of things, I see.”

He pauses himself now, looking over his spare room, the rays of the dying sun passing through the dust motes and forming, once more, a miniature cathedral. He looks, too, at the roses and gardenias beyond his home, their neatly trimmed petals wafting in the air. He has no words to express what he has found here.

He lifts slowly his head from his meditation; hears his mother’s voice:

Alfred, come!”


This last story is quite mysterious.

Let's see what I can come up with for music.  

"After the Weary Trip" and "Remembering" puts me in mind of the Flatlanders, a group from Texas.  
Here is a link to "Tonight I Think I'm Gonna Go Downtown": 

"I Think Too Much Of You" is another beautiful song by that group: 

"Rose from the Mountain" is a fine song although it doesn't quite fit:

I'm not sure what would go best with "Solitude's Passing."  Cole Porter can be decadent, so I'll post Artie Shaw's version of "Begin the Beguine":

I'll close with Shaw's "Nightmare":

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