25 April 2009

Bernadette Mayer

[from Bernadette Mayer's Poetry State Forest, New Directions, 2008]

Perfect Berry Architecture
polyglot company disinters her
ossuaries engulf recidividists everywhere
now we are in alphabet creek perfect tense
so far every loner with us -- would she begin
to risk her identity, a beginner
to fall down that wave, witness this: who
gets whom into troubler, troublest waters female

good news! a marble cat is on the prowl
a wolverine in laos, i am a user i use you
interminable until walked-out nights
become sepulchral, lacustrine & crepuscular
there's a rainbow in the same part of the sky
it's always in except when it's in the forest
where there cant be any light, red rock

40-60 [excerpt]

i was peeling bark from a sycamore tree on a balmy day in january when i realized i could now write 40-60. i was about 40 when i started living with phil & i probably still will be when i'm 60 6 months from now, i cant think of any major changes in floating life except that i now have all my books in one place, & everything else too. that is i have only one place to be & that is here where i'm writing this. this house is difficult, i lose things in it all the time, plus it's sometimes haunted, now now. when i was 49 i had a stroke, a cerebral hemmorhage & i can only now forget about it. i recently learned how to write a signature with my left hand, knowing for years signatures can be anything, now i write capital b & m, then scribble. for a long time i did a thumbprint on a copper stamp pad. i still can't use chopsticks & i can't take notes. this has made it necessary to use my memory much more & i can do all sorts of useless things with it now, like memorize license plates, now I have the mind of a mnemonist, i've always been excellet at scrabble; now I'm better at anagrams.

using memory makes writing different. i've gotten used to knowing ahead of time what i'm going to write, that is, actually thinking. i'm glad i had 49 years to not think exactly, to type as fast as i thought, without typos & to expend boundless energy on writing instead of walking which i can now do. it's hard to write this kind of work now because i'm thinking too much. . . .

my method in writing this is to write non-chronologically as fast as i can, 1/2-page for every year. since i had a stroke i don't write as fast as i think so i think more. pauses are spent daydreaming, not in thoughtless breathing. before i had a cerebral hemmorhage i could also get myself into a hypnogogic state in a very short time & anytime; i was a better meditator, i had more lovers, fewer problems. . . .

December 25
I'm dreaming of a partly white field
Laete triumphante this is our elephant
Come all ye cephalopods, hendecasyllables
to the MLA to get a job or it will be
Food stamps for you, come all ye maudlin tentacles
Join us for oysters, etouffe or soft-shell crabs

I don't live in your house, Jesus Christ
though baptized at a font, father give me five
The gloom of this day, just meteorologically
supercedes the tenebrosity of any in December
I am a cheerful flying squirrel living
willy-nilly to beat the rock & roll band, oh come

           Let us adore the person who'll arrive
           like a peninsula almost completely alive


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