I set down the pen for a little while,
warm, golden grass, ebony ink— 
silly little panda face munching bamboo 
etched into the woody top, 
opposite a blackened steel tip


When I returned to it, 
took up the battle once again,
I noted for the first time kanji
which, for some ungodly reason,
I understood, despite knowing precisely 
four, maybe five bits of Japanese—
and reading none


Words were there, words infinite in their 
diminution and their number that
I had so carelessly neglected—
I picked up my pen for a little while more, 
and found it had become a blazing sword


-AJ Mayfield


I read poetry

in school,

but then I stopped.

Later, much later,

I wrote poetry,

but then I stopped.

Along the way,

I discovered that

good prose is really

poetry in disquise.

And that,

I told myself,

made the poetry,

the reading and

the writing,


~AJ Mayfield

Death, Sin, and Other Trivia

The watchful gaze shone down,
and then the blade, deep and swift…
Made even gentle bloodied sunrise,
too terrifying for my eyes

Days in hiding came to nights where,
sleep superfluous, I slept not…
Until I shed that sacrificial skin,
now poisoned, now unholy, now thin

And seeing it no longer as my own,
I marveled at its hoary creeds, barnacles…
Its gruesome rust of well-intentioned lusts,
turned water swift to clinging mud

Now free of age, of sins partaken,
a naked Adam in a sweet garden…
Timeless, weightless, a sanctity of soul,
natural man, new-made, now whole

~AJ Mayfield


He awakened to soft gonging from the guest room at the other end of the upstairs hall, and to intense darkness. It rang four times, but that old clock kept terrible time….

To continue reading, please go to Senses in the Menu

The Belled Gate

An empty urn,
the barren bowl,
a vase awaiting
one pregnant rose

A table barren
of knight’s tableau,
stools surrounding
in retched repose

An earthen mug,
Pan’s pool in spring,
a coin no longer
worth its weight

Each grounded in its
reason, spherically
precluding its sin—
That ringing at the gate

A life-lived-not falters,
yet blindly clings to fate,
blind Themis holds in
balance still, the cup—
She chose too late

~AJ Mayfield

But a Moment to Grieve

What happens the first instant
after our world’s end
Is everything still, the pendulum
that lost its surly swing

Does the carven clock sit idle,
not quite enough cuck
to manage one more koo—
But still there’s something left

Or is it a different sort of spring,
not then unwinding fate
But coiling tightly, tighter still
until it snaps, breaks free

Destroys the maker’s hand,
rips down the veil of heaven
And damning every prophet,
sheds wild starlight, wand’ring still

~AJ Mayfield

If You Go

If you should go before me,
I’ll re-read every line you ever wrote me,
every thought we shared so late,
the daily noise of our existence,
condensed to fiery keystrokes by weary fingers

I’ll see, in every moonlit glade,
and every time 
there are no shadows in the trees,
that special light that always made you shine,
brightened stars suspended in oil-filled globe,
shimmering with delight and forgiveness,
waiting patiently to climb the wick
and burn my fingers when I strike the match

And I’ll hear your music,
you never knew I listened—did you,
not with ears, but with my heart,
and it will soothe me to dreamless slumber
when tears soak my pillow in endless twilight

I’ll remember every hungered kiss and every time
you found me hiding under our oak and scolded me
for putting off the work I should have done
I won’t put it off any longer
There’ll be nothing left for me but work
All the world gone grey, the mists
 of my memories
like a blanket
 smothering my tomorrows

But I won’t leave when you have gone
I will pay the tab for the time you gave,
finish everything we planned that autumn morn,
before I lock the gate behind me,
and follow breadcrumbs scattered on the loam

~AJ Mayfield

Tropic of Cancer

coda to “Northern Lights” (2014 Archive)

Her need, her dream, my southern love,
to walk once more the crystal sand,
and lead the sun toward winter’s end

Returning east, she sings my blood,
leaves Riojan wine on my tongue,
her breath of spring and tangerines

Bright northern star did fail its quest,
to hold her fast in autumn’s mist,
so now she runs, runs to me in ev’ning

Westerly, her eyes turn sunset gold,
and so my heart stands where it never left,
in summer’s azure glow, and new beginnings

~AJ Mayfield