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William S. Mayo

(artist credit for this rendering: Homer Yost)
P.O. Box 1765, Frederick MD 21702-0765

W. S. Mayo, alias "the Old Hack," has published for over fifteen years in a variety of small presses across this small, turning globe of ours. A sample few include: the California State Poetry Quarterly, poetrymagazine.com, and The Brobdingnagian Times of Cork, Ireland. Also, he has had assorted articles/letters to the editor in such publications as The Washington Post and The Frederick News-Post. Mr. Mayo is a citizen of Frederick, MD and takes pride in his magic city of wanderers, talespinners, and eccentrics alike.

His chapbook,"Tales Once Told," is now out of print.

Enjoy the read!


Two Sides
(for John)

He never knew which side of the tracks to stand on. On one
side were the shiny shoes and bell bottomed pants of the
dilettantes who had been his patrons; on the other were the
alcoholics and skid row bums of which he felt a certain
romance. It was a game of wandering turned over to solitaire
and then to Russian roulette. And when the train bore down
on him his last thought was that he was simply sorry he had
never said hello.

Case No 180757

He holds his lantern high in one hand,
his poor, ragged clothes glistening in the night.
His other hand held tightly in his pocket,
he calls out to every car
that passes through the gate:
"Mr. President, is that you?"
Finally, as a long, black limousine
drives through the open door
he rushes out of his hiding place,
bangs on the windows,
speaks in incorrigible tones.
When at last they take him away
his words are of envy and admiration.

Portrait of An Oddball

His head is large and strangely lopsided, one ear higher than the other; the nose
smashed by a fall, the mouth small and pouty like a woman's, a chin that is
pointy and covered with stubble. All come to a peak, like a V-shaped house or a
pindrop on a wire.

Below, his shoulders stretch out, long and bony, and leading to dangling arms
that fall beneath long and tithe waist. His genitals are small and tender and
surrounded by fulsome hips that nearly precede him when he walks.

As for his knees, they are set close together but lead to feet widely spaced apart,
so that when he strides down the sidewalk, it is like, in its own way, a child
skipping rope for the very first time.

When others avert their gaze he just smiles and gives to the talk he knows best.
He is, above all, his own man.

Four A.M. With The Devil

When the night grows old
and yet so far away.
Children slumber
not thinking of the devil inside.
Women dream of another's embrace
while sleeping in their husbands' arms.
Old men walk in circles in the park
while muttering loud riddles to one another.
Babies cry out for mama
who is not awake.
And I think of you in your bed
unable to shake the image of your face.


He mows the lawn, rakes the leaves, places the flowers by the old
man’s house, as the orders come swift and sure. A shadow upon his
back. he minds not the uneasy temper of the foreman at his back.
It is all in keeping with his soul.

Some say he killed a man a long time ago; others speak of almost
forgotten tales of rape and sordid details of the flesh. As for him, he
speaks not of the devil. Rather. he plants the flowers in the dirt the
way another man might hang his life on a cross. His breaths come
slow and easy; he speaks little of anything at all.

Finally, the old man’s wife calls them to dinner. He hesitates just a
little, pats the dirt around the thorny roses just a bit more with his
broad, dirty hands, then walks away.

When night comes at his shack a mile away, he dreams once more of
the rose, the tips of its thorns just barely touching his heart. After
that, there is only silence.

Fleshpots of The World, Unite!

and declare all things mimicry and debacle.
When the poor gir1 of a fishwife,
Bettina by name,
should knock on your door,
give her two herrings
and send her on her way.
As for the boy of the sunrise,
give him two nickels
and expect nothing in return.
For when the world's your oyster
and everything's on the half shell,
then turn to the prostitutes, the hangers-on,
and the shenanigans of life.
A full loaf shall be yours by sundown.

Copyright © 1999,2003. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Duplication of this poetry and/or art without permission of the author/artist is forbidden under copyright law. Please ask permission if you wish to use for non-commercial purposes
Last updated: February 17, 2003