Mark Mayes, A Private Heaven

We never saw him

The room is a world
and the world is a room.
There’s nothing outside
but gloom and moon.

He studied form
till form was vapour.
He wrote his life
on yellow paper.

The body they covered
with a flowered sheet,
whilst the horses stamped
in the empty street.


fingers wake
a private heaven
in the ache
of a major seventh

in blue glow
of rented rooms
lone arpeggios
bloom too soon

tarnished frets
rusted pegs
music begets
never begs

the old guitars
with old strings
body scars
and secret wings

there is ever

are you bathing in the clean
are you in the clear

where I am is lonely
and it getting dark here

are you in a body’s pride
moving under tear

where I am, am only
and it getting dark here

missed you once never more
tore up all your dear

where I am is solely
and it getting dark here

The Hat

Though they had broken his teeth,
closed one of his eyes,
and stolen the coins he had saved
for a wedding gift,
it was the hat he pitied most.

They wore it in turn,
aping his gait,
jigging about him
in their masks of contempt.

They tore the brim,
stamped on the crown,
ripped away the band,
left all in the dust.

He watched them go
as they bellowed down the alley,
protected by law.

Then took up the hat
with bloodied fingers,
reset it where it had lain,
at the angle of dignity.

The Chain

White berries on the bushes
in the spinneys of my childhood.

We played war, kick-the-can,
flicked at caps till they snapped.
Turned your fingernail black.

Turned back, turned back
for tea and TV.

White berries that popped
underfoot, under feet.
I saw some yesterday
and remembered the heat…

the heat stored up
in a garden wall,
after a Sunday’s sun,
where I’d run to,
breathless in my puppy fat,
to escape a row.

And how I’d leant my back
against the soothing brick
and closed my eyes,
as I do now.

Mark Mayes has had numerous poems and stories published over the years in magazines and anthologies. 2017 saw the publication of his novel The Gift Maker (Urbane). He has just completed a second novel as well as a collection of short stories. Mark also loves to write songs, some of which may be found here.

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