Such plain short poems (most only one page) and such simple titles (“The Beautiful Woman,” “The Last Gift”) … and so complex! Each poem is a Zen puzzle: dense, elliptical: often presenting the ambiguity of a crossword clue: verb? noun? adjective? We know there’s something happening here, and we want desperately to grasp it; but it keeps moving just out of sight like shelves in the sheep’s shop in Looking Glass world. Eventually, we begin to suspect that imparting complete understanding is not the author’s purpose; that he has deliberately left out the trail blazes because, in offering a only a partial image, he compels us to supply the missing portions ourselves, from the only place they can be found … our own experience.
We cannot say of any of these poems, “Been there, done that”, and dismiss it. Because the poem has changed the experience … if only by virtue of a unique clutch of words. Talking to himself in Mot Juste, Mr. Mayo wishes he could snip the narrative at the place where the “spirit of what you have struggled to articulate/ hardens/ like consonants around the illusive vowels/ of your life---”. “The Fisherman on the Screen” subtly explains:
The trick is in the line. How you cast back, letting
it unfurl behind you---then forward, rolling its
bight and loop so it alights on target, invisible,
kissing the surface right above your fish.
Mayo wants the “line’s back and forth… to always/ balance all that’s ever been behind you---with all that will ever be…”