Three poems by Mark Mayes


Are you a Dog?

A small tin of condensed milk

rolls away across the carpet.

You have done this.


The tin is red

with a white teddy bear on,

and patterns you will later know

as words.


As you crawl,

your fingers sink in

to the first knuckle.


The tin is far away,

under the table.

The carpet rubs your knees and shins.

The tin is getting bigger.


From another room

comes a voice you recognise.

And a laugh you recognise.

There is a clinking sound.


The room is not dark, not light.

It is changing.

It is good to be alone here,

following the teddy on the tin.



An Abandoned Game


In a postage-stamp garden,

your arm about my waist.


You said: look how I’ve shrunk.


Sad line mouth and smile.

Daily terrors for now denied.


Step out of the photo – won’t you?

Shimmer back to your print-stained chair.


We could play Scrabble till the film begins,

leave the board till morning.


Tell me about your scrumping days,

stale madeleines.


Summer excursions

to the high heath wood.


Once you gripped my hand

at an awkward angle,


said sorry son – sorry

I’m a bloody fool.



Lost Horizons


At the edge of her world

lies the threshold of sense.


At the loss of blue hills

lives a shadow sun.


What pulses between

our touching skin?


As the blood is diluted

till the water runs clear.


As a voice fades

till the whisper cannot move dust.


In the estate of the breath

meaning decomposes.


When our eyes meet

our faces refract endlessly.

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