Mary Panza

Mary Panza

Mary Panza has been a mainstay on the Albany Poetry scene since 1988. She has been witness to countless open mics, naked poets, fires, drunks, chapbooks, career changes, organizations (both coming and going), festivals and great poetry and spoken word.

She is Vice President of Albany Poets and host of Poets Speak Loud, a monthly open mic held the last Monday of each month at McGeary’s in Albany.

She was on her way living the rest of her life as a party girl when (at 37) the party really began when she became a mother.

Her work is ever evolving as she tries to figure it all out.



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I expected too much from you
That is why I have been mad
For so long

I am sorry

You are who you are
As scared and as unsure as the rest of us

I am the one who was unfair
I wanted you to be larger than life when you weren’t

Now I am in your shoes
It is not a comfortable fit

I wanted you to hurt as bad as I did
The whole time not realizing that I couldn’t even come close to your

Forgive my arrogance
Forgive my innocence
Forgive me

I read the book
I get it now

I am not the Young Poet anymore



I didn’t mind explaining what it meant
It is the unattainable love
It is the one thing you want so much that your muscles
And you know in your heart that it will never work
You want it
All the same
And when the Deep Dark Truth, the NO you knew you were going to hear
All Along
Screams so loud that you wish you were
You spend the rest of your life trying to prove that it was a huge cosmic mistake
Kept this from you
And you do things to show it that you are
The one that got away

The sad truth is that my Rushmore is not the one that I couldn’t have
It is the one I want
That never existed
He only lives in my mind
And I have spent my whole life trying to make him



Were we important
Did it mean anything
To anyone but us
Did we see the world
And leave our mark
Do we get the boy in the end
Is he British, and skinny
Do we wear black all the time
And live in a very cool place
A London flat or a Soho loft
Are we the envy of the cheerleaders
Are we thin and pretty
Do we show everyone who ever said we were crazy
Just how crazy we were and get even with the world

Thirty-four speaks to Sixteen

We are not important on a global scale
Butt there are a few good people who count on us
I don’t know if it is supposed to mean anything to anyone
Butt us I know that it has had meaning to at least us
We did see the world
A couple of times and we will see it again only with a better sense of History
As for leaving a mark, maybe a blemish
Butt it ain’t over yet
Sometimes we got the boy, Sometimes the boy got to us
Some had funny accents or habits or haircuts or habits
Butt we got over them painfully and went about out business
We wore black all the time because alas skinny was never in the cards for us

I don’t know if the cheerleaders envy us
They are too busy raising their families or managing their lives
To fight old fights
We all had our shit to deal with
And some of them are nice people
Our apartment is nice and we even have a dog
We get mail and bills and have a nice car
And a pretty good job that we are happy doing
And yes
We showed all those people that thought we were crazy
Just how crazy people get things done



Because the world already has too many rock stars
Because I am not a rock star
Because I was the “Funny One”
Because I am a loud mouthed, inappropriate, too honest for her own good, freak
Because I like being around people like me
Because it is the only place we are not freaks
Because my father didn’t love me
Because people piss me off
Because the men that understood what I was saying became my friends
Because the men that liked how I said it, I slept with
Because poetry is all the shit you should have said but were too tongue-tied
Because you should never piss off a writer
Because my feelings were hurt
Because I can’t afford therapy
Because I can’t afford drugs
Because drinking to excess after thirty makes women age in dog years
Because it weeds out the weak
Because I can



Girl, Pen, Trouble
Boy admires Coffee Girl. Coffee Girl reminds him of his ex-wife. Pasty, thin
With a phone sex voice a lot like the movie “Girl 6”.

Girl, Pen, Trouble
Cute Interesting Girl begins to see that Boy is out of his fucking mind and just likes Coffee girls as a rule. She feels that maybe Boy is just that, not man, not friend, just Boy.

Girl, Pen, Trouble
Perhaps Cute Interesting Girl should fight for Boy? Should make him see that she and her coffee are just as flavorful as restaurant quality. Maybe she should stalk Boy and get his routine down? Can Boy be trusted?

Girl, Pen, Trouble
Pen Speaks:
Hello, Cute Interesting Girl. In case you have forgotten, I am a pen. I am your voice of reason. Now you must listen.
ARE YOU FUCKING CRAZY? Chasing down some dumb Boy like a desperate 16-year-old. Get a grip. You are Cute Interesting Girl and you don’t take this shit. You have me and because you have me you are always going to win. With me there is nothing left unsaid. You win every war and come out of it with dignity. Coffee Girl doesn’t have me and neither does Boy.

All they have is each other. I am your man now and I have always been your man. You are never without me. I am your Truth, I am your Trouble, I am God, and I am your pen.

Girl, Pen, Trouble
Cute Interesting Girl hears Pen

Loud and Clear

Goes home and thinks about threesome with




I will not chase your ghost
Perhaps I drove past the bar once or twice hoping that I would run into you and your super cool friends
It was only once or twice
I didn’t spend an entire tank of gas, 30 cigarettes, or tears
Looking for you

I will not chase your ghost
I maybe would have
Definitely would have a couple years ago
Addicted to the thrill of maybe running into you
Stragicatily planned and quite by chance
Like a degenerate gambler knowing that next turn around the block Was the long shot that was going to pay off in Sex and Drugs and you Falling hopelessly in love with me
Just so I could dump you or spend the rest of my life with you
Which ever came first
And hearing you say
“Hey, I was looking for you”
In that casual, stoned cute way you have
Smoothing over all the desperation I was

I will not chase your ghost
I am too old, I have to get up early for a real job, and I have
A dog that likes to go to the Park early, I don’t want to look like shit in The morning from smoking and crying will leave my face puffy

I will not chase your ghost
Like it or not
I have grown up



Johnnie Braveheart sits at a desk under florescent lights
He is handsome, mid-thirties, writes like a rock star
Johnnie counts down the days until retirement
In 19 years come this September he will die for those who came before
In the mean time
Johnnie Braveheart runs the revolution from home
Left of left
Sits a desk surrounded by his paper heroes
Is forced into one room by a girl
She takes up time and space in Johnnie’s world
An experiment in what can happen when two people do everything to
Make each other miserable
She cries and cuts, hems and haws, rants and raves
Even when she gets her own way
Girl sews a black wedding gown
Have bride’s maids on speed dial
Just waiting for Johnnie to ask
Girl makes him feel old and ugly and useless
He loves it
Makes him feel important
The suffering is exquisite
Like those dead brothers before him
Johnnie Braveheart sits a desk
His hero’s words scribbled on a yellow post-it note
“The Ardent Voyage Continues,
The Course Is Set On Hope.”
Hope came one day in the form of a woman
Violent, Beautiful, Honest
Short pleated skirt
Rings on every finger
She punches Johnnie in the face
Breaks his nose
Flirting she calls it
Just to get his attention
He loves her but she makes him happy
He is just not into happy
Or Hope
His brothers didn’t suffer so he could be happy
Hope realizes that the revolution is just an excuse
Johnnie may write like a rock star
She thinks
But he lives frozen
A Martyr
For nothing
His hero rolls in his grave
Hope cannot exists without action
The revolution is televised all the time
You can’t help but watch
Takes her truth
Her broken heart
Her dignity
Kicks Johnnie in the space where his
Balls should be
Grabs the cattle prod and riding crop
Goes Home
Johnnie Braveheart sits
At a desk under florescent lights
He missed the point
He will die for the revolution in 19 years come this September
The clock ticks
This Revolution is already



In a post partum world
My head no longer fits up my
My house in order
There are white lace curtains on all the windows
And the windows are clean
In a post partum world
I would have to clean your house
Make it livable for people who enjoy breathing
Vacuum up the cat hair, the dust, the cowardice
The stupidity, the wasted time and money
The same way I did to
In a post partum world what the poet said was true
the eyes of my eyes are open
And my days of being a party girl are
My days of being a true bad ass
Are finally here
In a post partum world I
Insist you call me
I have earned it and I want it
My sheets are clean and crisp and they smell like
In this post partum world you broke
My heart
Shook my faith
Settled for less than is the splendor
In the this post partum world
I get up
Pull myself together
Take a deep breath
And go



I watch the elephant stuck in the
Read the words from my punk rock
DVR the daytime drama because I can’t stand the
At work I watch the man across the parking lot fuck with the
Star struck girl
She has a thing for writer types
She says good-bye the way desperate women do
She wraps her arms around his neck
I am sure she has enough scent on to
If I draw him near and he smells my scent
He will realize he can’t live with out
She is thinking
He will never remember her
He doesn’t remember me
He is unshaven and wrinkled and dirty and hopelessly
Out of touch
I watch from my window at work
I have stopped participating in such activities
I have become an adult with better things to do
They lure the elephant out of the bathtub with a bag of
The punk rock chef married another Sicilian
I watch the girl on the daytime drama
Wrap her arms around the man’s neck
Draw him close
I fast forward though the
And wait for the poem to



In French so I can’t understand
Not that I would in English anyway
We left off on page 803 always with constant interruptions
Restoration…Revolution…Places in Paris
Did I ever tell you about my first time in Paris?
During the war
A three day pass
I thought to myself I may not live to see Paris again
I stayed up the whole three days
Just walking around Paris
I was utterly
We should pick this up next week.
Page 804
The importance of witnessing an



I now know that the khaki trench coat is only as dull as the soul that wears it
4:30 up with her and her endless energy
5am coffee shop on primary day Politicos with donuts   Your tax dollars hard at work
Teeth brush, Lunch and snack accounted for Side door, Hallway, Reading, Coloring
Car, More coffee while I shop
I pass laundry trucks and white Jeep Cherokees( with nasty girls inside), an old business associate with son in tow  I don’t say Hi  I debate reporting the cat hoarding nurse he left me for    Tell myself I’m no hypocrite when the real truth is I have too much to do let alone rise above it.
Not yet
I enjoy my anger way too much to let it go
Amigo, Com padre I know you are there (I can feel you)
Angel on housewife Tuesday
I am sitting in my car outside the mall
With full porn star eyes at 9:30am
I feel the presence of an Angel
I know you are there
Be with me through the shoe department, fat clothes, make-up, sales racks, self-help gurus (and their stolen advice), boredom, TV, pick-up, dinner, bath
And home



The aftermath consists of everything you once held dear
Strong coffee is now green tea
Cigarettes are now a bad example and second hand smoke is held in your clothes and can give the baby
Sad French movies with beautiful heroines are now replaced with 64 Zoo Lane
Copping a buzz can be achieved with a half hour
Of Teletubbies and if you ask me
Their all gay

The artistic pain and suffering is missed like a body part
A phantom limb
Zen like peace is so fucking boring and you say things like
Shit, the silence is deafening
And you have never used the word deafening in your whole life

Phone calls from jealous house Frau’s read like a cheap used novel
“Sorry your father is dead.  How did you come up with the money for your house?   Surely you don’t make that much without an education.”

If one more person tells me what to do I will break the
In half

There has to be more to this and if Dr Phil has the
Then the question was fucked up from the start

I may be frustrated
I sincerely believe
That there is more to this

I don’t want to be that girl again
I want to fit back into her clothes
Because looking back at it
That girl wasn’t