Mary Ann Mayer
Ringo, What Am I Living For?
That year of stray jobs,
the year I felt irrelevant,
I got interested in canine dermatology --
one night at the Met Cafe, in Providence
leaning on a lolly column
akimbo to the stage, listening
to a country-grunge singer,
sing about the general idea of a goal in life.
Anyway, thatís what I read into the lyric of white roses
appliqued across his dingy satin shirt,
three bottom snaps undone, pouty belly
popping out, the rest of him Jagger-thin
all liquored up, humping the mike stand, crooning,
"Iím so miserable I almost want you back."
Flo, the bar dog, ambles back and forth in front of the stage.
One haunch mangy, the other hairless from lying in swill;
I lean a little straighter,
at once more awake to lifeís possibilities.
I call Flo over for a scratch but sheís gone off with the bouncer.
I light up in bars. Get ideas. Like Ringo.
Who knew heíd composed more songs than Lennon-McCartney?
Problem was, he said, he couldnít read his own handwriting in the morning.
Me, Iíd kill for that collection.
Thatís what canine dermatology must be like.
A shot at resurrection. The chance to dig
Floís dew-claw, hooked and ingrown, out of her leg,
see tears of gratitude fill her brown bedroom eyes.
When I travel in Germany
the sheep unnerve me,
as if Iím being followed
by followers and fanatics
of saviors, shepards, commandments,
commanding followers to follow,
sheep to herd, adherents to adhere
like cling wrap, to cling,
so when I feel
the eyes through my back,
the smiles shiny as shrink wrap,
I do the American thing:
head for the hills,
to pan for beer.
Pleasure Bazaar, Cairo
In the marketplace of the ancient capital
a group of women in burkhas
absorbed in their shopping linger
at the stall with lingerie for sale.
Women in draped outerwear
are a common sight here,
sorting through underwear
fruit bowl of color spilled over the table.
One woman, her back arched, holds
a pair up to the light, another pair between her teeth.
She sizes the waist, tugs the seams;
in sunlight leopard spots appear to jump.
Pair after pair she throws aside:
voluminous and drab, ditto for virginal white silk,
red hearts and evocative script,
gold-spun yarn, jeweled spangles,
castles on clouds...
of proportions ample and slim
nothing here is uniquely Egyptian,
not even her fingerprints.
What is she looking for in these bins?
not structure for structures are similar:
crotch, girth, front, rear panels, leg holes cut on the bias,
a way in, a way out,
Thou shalt, thou shalt not -- whereas,
pleasures are ephemera, eyelets
to the soulís asymmetrical frills, heft
of desire, all suggestion...
as her laughing eyes express
excitement to a friend over a find, whose own eyes
travel then her fingers along a doilied behind fringed with bells,
which will make a pleasing music when she strolls.
©2008 by Mary Ann Mayer
Mary Ann Mayerís poems and essays on poetry have appeared in two anthologies
and numerous journals, most recently in Rock & Sling:
A Journal of Literature, Art & Faith (Winter 2007); Umbrella Journal
(Winter 2008; Summer 2007); Shit Creek Review (July 2007); and
The New Verse News (May 30th, í07). She lives in Southeastern
Massachusetts and Franconia, New Hampshire with her husband and their
bird dog, Ezra Hound. Mary Ann believes it takes twenty years to
become a poet, and is thrilled to be more than halfway there. Before
turning to poetry she practiced psychiatric and geriatric occupational
therapy for twenty-five years in community settings and hospitals.
She published a chapbook in 2005, Telephone Man,
and is at work on a collection of poems paying tribute to Homo Ludens,
or, playful human. She is pleased that Slow Trains
has chosen poems from all points in her career, from very early to
brand new, for this issue.