Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Several PhillySound readers wrote asking similar questions about the Bernadette Mayer post (see 6/9/06), asking for the most part what was an example of a form that I had been used to that differed from the "Counterhatch" example.

I'm on the third reading of this READER, and with this round am reading each piece over and over and Loving how things fall apart from what was originally understood, felt, seen, heard. The book is addictive in that way, that concentration at how and where and WHEN every line has its say. The kind of addiction I always hope for in a book of poetry.

But to answer the question about what has been more familiar for me with Mayer, which differs from the "Counterhatch" example. The following poem "First turn to me...." Lee Ann Brown showed me for the first time a few years ago. "First turn to me...." was written in the 90s, three decades AFTER the time of the "Counterhatch" writing. There's a deft use of alliteration (as a kick-start) with this more narrative voice which is intimate in a way that sex in poems doesn't always accomplish. Not exploitive, and beautiful as any tremulous and honest human animal motion when uninhibited and not uninhibited in the act of overcoming being inhibited, but just natural, an unconscious natural. And maybe it's just me, but I'm never brought to this feeling of voyeurism, it's like having tea while Bernadette and some guy cum against the pressures of the percolator, the thrusts as much the conversation as any other part of the conversation. You'll have to let me know how it is for you. Hehe, how was the sex of the poem for you? Was it good? Of course it was, it's a brilliant placement of everything.


First turn to me . . . .
by Bernadette Mayer

First turn to me after a shower,
you come inside me sideways as always

in the morning you ask me to be on top of you,
then we take a nap, we're late for school

you arrive at night inspired and drunk,
there is no reason for our clothes

we take a bath and lie down facing each other,
then later we turn over, finally you come

we face each other and talk about childhood
as soon as I touch your penis I wind up coming

you stop by in the morning to say hello
we sit on the bed indian fashion not touching

in the middle of the night you come home
from a nightclub, we don't get past the bureau

next day it's the table, and after that the chair
because I want so much to sit you down & suck your cock

you ask me to hold your wrists, but then when I
touch your neck with both my hands you come

it's early morning and you decide to very quietly
come on my knee because of the children

you've been away at school for centuries, your girlfriend
has left you, you come four times before morning

you tell me you masturbated in the hotel before you came by
I don't believe it, I serve the lentil soup naked

I massage your feet to seduce you, you are reluctant,
my feet wind up at your neck and ankles

you try not to come too quickly
also, you don't want to have a baby

I stand up from the bath, you say turn around
and kiss the backs of my legs and my ass

you suck my cunt for a thousand years, you are weary
at last I remember my father's anger and I come

you have no patience and come right away
I get revenge and won't let you sleep all night

we make out for so long we can't remember how
we wound up hitting our heads against the wall

I lie on my stomach, you put one hand under me
and one hand over me and that way can love me

you appear without notice and with flowers
I fall for it and we become missionaries

you say you can only fuck me up the ass when you are drunk
so we try it sober in a room at the farm

we lie together one night, exhausted couplets
and don't make love. does this mean we've had enough?

watching t.v. we wonder if each other wants to
interrupt the plot; later I beg you to read to me

like the Chinese we count 81 thrusts
then 9 more out loud till we both come

I come three times before you do
and then it seems you're mad and never will

it's only fair for a woman to come more
think of all the times they didn't care


The following sonnet I want to share, it's one of my favorite sonnets by her. The anger of the world view is one I feel in my own life, and this poem really gets me! I LOVE it! (This poem is also from the 90s)


by Bernadette Mayer

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 121.
To die, turn to page 172.


Let me share an extraordinary poem she wrote in the 60s, around the "Counterhatch" writing. "It Moves Across" is a mystery that GETS YOU, holds you to the rails as we speed along! Mmmm! You'll see!


It Moves Across
by Bernadette Mayer

It moves across and over
across the ground
it moves across over the ground
under (by the bridge) the moss
over the moss
across the grass the
grass moves across crossing the
blades of grass into
larger fields
of grass crossing over the
mounds and hills of
nothing but grass on top of
roots of grass
it moves across slowly
slowly into
another field or further
through the forest still
moving by
and by emerging from
the forest small enough
the same rate
under the bridge next to the
trees next through the
trees missing them moving
around them still
crossing like the trees
the trees over
like blades of grass the
grass over as a bridge goes over
bridges over the trees
it moves across the hills
like a field over the fields
like field on field
of a hill of a hill
as if the forest
into its forest
on the ground like the ground over
stopping over
near a patch of grass.


For EPC link: MAYER

For many other links: MAYER

(posted by CAConrad)

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