09 April 2009

Bernadette Mayer

[from Bernadette Mayer's Sonnets, Tender Buttons, 1984]

Holding the Thought of Love

And to render harmless a bomb or the like
Of such a pouring in different directions of love
Love scattered not concentrated love talked about,
So let's not talk of love the diffuseness of which
Round our heads (that oriole's song) like on the platforms
Of the subways and at their stations is today defused
As if by the scattering of light rays in a photograph
Of the softened reflection of a truck in a bakery window

You know I both understand what we found out and don't
Hiking alone is too complex like a slap in the face
Of any joyous appointment even for the making of money

Abandoned to too large a crack in the unideal sphere
               of lack of summer
When it's winter, of wisdom in the astronomical arts,
               we as A & B
Separated then conjoin to see the sights of Avenue C


You jerk you didn't call me up
I haven't seen you in so long
You probably have a fucking tan
& besides that instead of making love tonight
You're drinking your parents to the airport
I'm through with you bourgeois boys
All you ever do is go back to ancestral comforts
Only money can get -- even Catullus was rich but

Nowadays you guys settle for a couch
By a soporific color cable t.v. set
Instead of any arc of love, no wonder
The G.I. Joe team blows it every other time

Wake up! It's the middle of the night
You can either make love or die at the hands of
                           the Cobra Commander


To make love, turn to page 32.
To die, turn to page 110.


Moth like porphyry lights the town
Like a phratry against the city how many
Famous men die in a summer today it was
The painter Clyfford Still when he died
I opened the window in the pantry
To bring down the screen on the sill resting
Was a snake curled snakelike disturbed by me
It crawled back behind one of many of cold
Old New England's kitchen sinks in childhood
A snake extracted from a pipe is preserved in a jar
In a plumber's window in New York where I'll go back
Next week I was lucky to see Still's painting
Years ago, I am abstract a poet I am not what
I forget is poetry compared -- porphyry like moth.


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