Two Poems by Tim Mayo

A Brief Explanation of the Psychotic Universe

This is how it works: the invisible
cause and effect of the universe,
that Big Bang no one has ever heard,
emits its waves of singular commands.

Then the voices ripple through the cosmos,
one by one, whispering their secret orders,
which only I can hear, for I am Cassandra.
I see them slipping into my ear, shifting
with each surreptitious twist of air, skating
the thin line between wind and waft until,
with a flutter, a momentary lull settles
into my head telling me it’s time.

Friends, penitents, suffering pilgrims,
all blessed in your hospital blues,
listen, for I have heard the universe,
the first echoes of its birth, nearing
louder and louder with each new gust,
and I alone have escaped to tell you.

Bagatelle to Stay Awake on Night Shifts

The scars on my wrists are not what you think.
On one, a dog bit me as I addressed her mistress.
(A quick zip to the hospital sewed me up like new.)
On the other, a shrill girl, mad at her mother, shrieked
and chewed me like the nipple she’d never known.
I want to say I’m a better person for having been
consumed by fear, anger, and the animal love
of those we want to love and be loved by–but . . .

let me just surreptitiously whisper what I’ve become,
lisp out a little psst between these gaps in time and teeth,
when we lick our wounds with words and dreams.
I am the tooth fairy, come to collect the ivory loss
of the unloved, the impressions they make. Ooh,
what shall I leave under their pillows tonight?


Tim Mayo’s poems have received six Pushcart Prize nominations as well twice being chosen a finalist for the Paumanok Prize. His first full length collection, The Kingdom of Possibilities, (Mayapple Press, 2009) was a finalist for the 2009 May Swenson Award. His second volume of poems, Thesaurus of Separation (Phoenicia Publishing 2016) was a finalist for the 2017 Montaigne Medal and a finalist for the 2017 Eric Hoffer Book Award. His next collection, Notes to the Mental Hospital Timekeeper, will be published by Kelsay Books in early 2020. He lives in Southern Vermont, where he works in a Mental Hospital.

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