Mary Ann Mayer

Elegy for the trees

An angry man bought the hillside.
Hungry for blue bigness

he chain-sawed the trees;
he smashed the nests – the birds fled.

I wanted to write an elegy for the trees,
that old comforting wood.  I wanted to,

but couldn’t— being so full
of anger.

It’s bitter cold— sub-zero, and this jay
blue and clear on the branch below my window,

this jay: no song-bird, not sentient
yet here,

shining in low sun, red berries of mountain ash,
a dark crown animating the branches—


First appeared in Umbrella Journal (4), 2007-2008. Also, recently featured as Mass Poetry’s Poem of the Moment, January 2, 2017..


The Roofs Are Alive and Reassuring

You say,
The snow on the roof
Looks like a swan sleeping in its wing.

I say,
The avalanche is coming, can’t you see
That iron rooster poke its head out of its clutch of white?

Don’t worry, you say,
The rooster is just a chimney cap—
Can we play the snowdrift game some more?

But the avalanche, I say,
Makes puckering sounds
In the night and I’m afraid.

You say,
I see a whale
Taking a steam bath.

I say, I love you.


Origami Poems Winter Celebration winner, featured in South                       County Living (Fall 2009).

Mary Ann’s second book, Salt & Altitudes, was published in 2014 (Finishing Line Press).  Winner of the Grub Street Poetry Prize and a Pushcart Prize nominee, her poems appear widely— most recently in the anthologies, Missing Providence (Frequency Writers) and They Worked—We Write: Celebrating New England Textile Workers (Ocean State Poets). Through the Origami Poems Project, she helps distribute free, handmade micro-chapbooks.  Why poetry matters, writes Mary Ann, is something only poetry can answer.  She adds, “I’m in awe of its generative power. Good poems abduct, then release us, transformed. I only know, that like us, it has an unruly right to exist.