Mary Ann Anderson

Mary Anne’s newest book of poems ,“Before the After. Love, Loss and Revolution in the Time of COVID,” was released by Keyes Canyon Press in January 2021.

In 2014, she received Distinguished Poet Award from the Writers International Network in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her original one-woman show “BAR LIES. . . and other tales” premiered at the first Carmel Performing Arts Festival.

Mary Anne is a musical tour de force as a vocalist, with two jazz cds, “Beautiful Dreamer” and “Rendezvous” as well as a mixed bag of musical genres found in her projects with the duo “Simple Pleasures.”Her talent as a lyricist has also garnered her several awards, including two songs on the Grammy-nominated  “From All Sides” by the L.A. Jazz Choir.

Her works appear in many publications, including: VIVACE, Equitude, Solo Novo, Homestead Review, Drabble, First Literary Review, Treehouse Arts, Front Porch Magazine, Sad Girls, the Wisconsin Review, Too Well Away Literary Journal , and the Monterey Bay Plentitude of Poets.

Mary Anne belongs to the Cambria Writers Workshop, and is also a member of Maui Live Poets Society.

Talk Story Revised

(based on Jack London’s “Water Baby” from Stories of Hawaii)

Trickery saved Keikiwai from hungry sharks.
He spoke their language,
fooled them into eating one another
while he dove into the lobster cove
and caught enough to feed the king.

When the feast was over, he was rewarded with a princess
who also spoke the language of the fishes.
Her love songs echoed through the chasms below
until one day more sharks appeared, lured by her lovely voice.

Keikiwai begged her stop, fearing they might go hungry. 
And when her singing ceased,  her lips sealed shut,
so tight she could not eat, or smile, or give him kisses.
She died in silence.

And in the full moon’s light I sit on the rocky cliffs
watching the sharks dance to her song
as she croons from the depths,
her sharp teeth glistening.

The Pietà

Sophomore year at Ursuline Academy offered no comfort for the faint of heart, only more of the same -homework, daily prayers and  a first-class education. Laden with twenty pounds of books, I often stopped to daydream as I meandered through the woods to delay getting home too soon. Father always arrived before mother, and I had to make the excuse of having too much homework to visit with him while he drank his first of many beers.

One day, the principal announced that our class was chosen to go to the New York World’s Fair, and that we had tickets to see Michelangelo’s Pietà. And we wouldn’t have to wear our uniforms. I could blend in, I thought, lose myself in the crowd when we were given the freedom to roam around after lunch. I found a bench near the astral fountain and closed my eyes, then bowed my head and said three Hail Marys, hoping to shake the sadness the trailed me like a shadow.

At two o’clock, we lined up at the Vatican Pavilion. The nuns darted about and could hardly contain their excitement as they took roll call. Tired from too much noise and commotion, I entered the dimly lit, air-conditioned building and stepped onto a tiered conveyor belt that transported us into the exhibit. Hundreds of blue simulated stars gave the impression of a heavenly night sky and I saw several women clutching rosaries and crying.

There, in the profound silence, I fixed my eyes on the Pietà. Mary’s pitiful sadness, head down and shoulders slouched, took my breath away, and I clutched the handrail to keep from fainting. Her left hand was outstretched as if to say, I succumb.

Slowly, slowly, the moving walkway rolled along, then suddenly stopped, so I had a full frontal view. The ecru shade of marble was so pallid, the folds of her drapery so lustrous. I could feel the mute presence of death all around her; in her expression, such alone-ness. This I understood. Michelangelo had captured her condition so perfectly; here she was, showing ultimate compassion for the suffering of her God-child; she, God’s child herself.

I held back the tears on the return trip to New Rochelle. I too had experienced a death, the death of innocence. I prayed for Mary to succor me, hold me sway. Give me her Pietà.


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