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About this poet

Bernadette Mayer was born on May 12, 1945, in Brooklyn, New York. She received her BA from the New School for Social Research in 1967.

She is the author of numerous books of poetry and prose, including: Poetry State Forest (New Directions, 2008), Scarlet Tanager (2005), Two Haloed Mourners: Poems (1998), Proper Name and Other Stories (1996), The Desires of Mothers to Please Others in Letters (1994), The Bernadette Mayer Reader (1992), Sonnets (1989), Midwinter Day (1982), The Golden Book of Words (1978), and Ceremony Latin (1964).

From 1967 to 1969, Mayer and conceptual artist Vito Acconci edited the journal 0 TO 9. With her husband, writer and publisher Lewis Warsh, she edited United Artists Press. She has taught writing workshops at The Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church in New York City for many years and she served as the Poetry Project's director during the 1980s. Bernadette Mayer lives in East Nassau, New York.

On Gifts For Grace

Bernadette Mayer, 1945
I saw a great teapot
I wanted to get you this stupendous
100% cotton royal blue and black checked shirt,
There was a red and black striped one too
Then I saw these boots at a place called Chuckles
They laced up to about two inches above your ankles
All leather and in red, black or purple
It was hard to have no money today
I won't even speak about the possible flowers and kinds of lingerie
All linen and silk with not-yet-perfumed laces
Brilliant enough for any of the Graces
Full of luxury, grace notes, prosperousness and charm
But I can only praise you with this poem—
Its being is the same as the meaning of your name

Copyright © 2005 by Bernadette Mayer. From Scarlet Tanager. Reprinted with permission of New Directions Publishing.

Copyright © 2005 by Bernadette Mayer. From Scarlet Tanager. Reprinted with permission of New Directions Publishing.

Bernadette Mayer

Bernadette Mayer

Bernadette Mayer is the author of numerous books of poetry and prose, including: Poetry State Forest (New Directions, 2008). 

by this poet

poem
the penis is something that fits into the vagina
so's the tampax or sponge
therefore Aristotle never thought of women at all
the penis like a tree fits into mouth, hands and asshole too
it can be the subject of an academic poem
disguised as a sloop, catapult or catamaran's mastpole
never the monthly menstruation
poem
I went thru the turnstyle to the party
In the risqué penthouse that was not
A penthouse, I followed people but maybe
They weren't people, it was ethical
To follow them over the edges of the balloons
Until we found some tapsons to eat, heartily
We indulged & found the right move in relation
To the movements
poem
song birds take a bath in our elephant pool
turtles don't come to our turtle yet
sunflower cytology apprehend the weeds in our garden
cytologies you mean & well there's poison ivy
as in drew barrymore or
dream creatures knocking at the window
threatening to kill you on a snowy road
and now the luna moth