Tim Mayo: Poems from “The Kingdom of Possibilities”

Tim Mayo’s first full-length poetry book, The Kingdom of Possibilities, was published this April by Mayapple Press. It was also a finalist for the May Swenson Award. Mayapple Press is a small press established in 1978 by poet and editor Judith Kerman. Editors say, “We specialize in contemporary literature, especially poetry and works that straddle conventional categories: Great Lakes, women, Caribbean, translations, science fiction poetry, recent immigrant experience, Judaica.” Tim has kindly permitted me to reprint two poems from his collection below. His finalist poem from our 2007 Winning Writers War Poetry Contest can also be read here.

The Wild Boy of Aveyron

         (Paris, 1801)

I named him Victor to vanquish the animal in him.
I tried to teach him to name his own needs,
to have his words rise up from the core
of his body, ball up in his throat, then push out
in well formed vowels quelling the inarticulate.

But all he could gargle out was the word lait
as if somewhere between tongue and throat
the muscles that made his words had lost their way.

Lait became his insistent call for love
and the angry expression to all the words
neither my little briberies of milk nor
my punitions could ever make him say.

Later, I tired and returned to Paris,
but sometimes, in the dark non sequitur
of night, when dreams should take me away,
Victor comes and shakes me. I watch him
press his nose against the window,
confused by its impenetrable glass,

and I see the moon’s milk-glow fracture
down upon his face and the hills, caged
between the mullions, huddling outside.

Then grinning with a feral joy, he pulls
again at my sleeve saying his one word
over and over, until he turns back, and tilting
his head up, he opens his mouth wide and waits
for the moon to pour in…and I fall asleep.


The Beautiful Woman

You stare at the jagged tic-tac-toe of her scars
where once a downy peach fuzz grew, and you
how beauty is an emotion from which desire
like a prodigal. How it often burgeons, a sudden
from a dark and unexpected place where you
nothing grew.

                   But here…now…the livid white knots
of her skin seem to muscle into purple before your
all of that past pain which, to you, is only the
of what you see and the embarrassment of being
as you imagine the indignities she suffered for
    each mark.

So you glance up at her face hoping she hasn’t
    noticed how
the un-erasable remnants of her past have kept
    you transfixed.
You look into those eyes, dreading the wise, sad
    look back,
the dismissal of it all that will scar you, too, possibly
    for life.