Contact Info:

Tim Mayo

P.O. Box 522

Brattleboro, VT 05302-0522

<tim-mayo@tim-mayo.net>



Contact Info:

Tim Mayo

P.O. Box 522

Brattleboro, VT 05302-0522

<tim-mayo@tim-mayo.net>

Note to the Mental Hospital Timekeeper


Dear Bob, 


Today, I subbed at the hospital school,
babysitting class after class, 
teaching the kids nothing––the ones 
who live across the street 
in the group homes the hospital runs.

As you can see from the time clock,
ADP provides both you and me,
it took the allotted six point five hours 
before the kids and I gathered up 
our coats and hats, calling it a day, 
and they trudged back to the locked doors 
of their houses, and I climbed the stairs
to the locked door of my garret, 
where I write you this poem 
instead of my usual email––not about
the extra money I am due––but about
the grains of sand, which seemed 
to sift through my fingers, today,
each grain chafing at another life 
each child imagines living, 
and about the heaviness 
weighing on them, drooping
their shoulders like sand bags 
the residents of some river town carry 
to make the embankments they need 
to hold back the imminent flood.

Nonetheless, 
please remember to credit me 
the higher pay rate I am in fact due, 
if only for offering my empty hand, 
then for filling it with pencils 
I personally sharpened, cursing
the pencil maker for their off-center leads,
as I then gave each student their own wand 
to calculate the magic of wisdom 
and to mark down the answers 
they are trying to find: the true values
of the algebraic x’s in the countless 
disappointments that make up         
the lopsided equations of their lives.        

Tomorrow, I’ll sub again,
and I promise to send you 
another reminder. Until then, 
keep the home fires burning
and the old time clock well oiled.
We’ll never know––will we?––
when the electric world will fail,
and the spark of connection dies.



From Notes to the Mental Hospital Timekeeper

(First published in Naugatuck River Review) 


Tim Mayo Poet