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About this poet

Bernadette Mayer was born on May 12, 1945 in Brooklyn, New York. She received her B.A. 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.

Ode on Periods

Bernadette Mayer, 1945
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 will she
belie tradition's bloody demagoguery enough
to appear in the rough in a poem in a monthly
I dream I had a deep cut on my finger
filled with a delicious tofu cake
and when you took off your clothes your penis
was among them hanging by a cord on a hook
I took it down hoping its disassociation from being
would not thus prevent its manly erection from existing
and therefore I tried it out and it went well
such as license as mine perhaps made it swell independent
I think the world is all fucked up in many ways (see footnotes)
and one of these is the apparent interdiction in dumb poetic tradition
of speaking of and being heard on the glories of sublime menstruation

I first got my period when I was twelve the day my father died
at least I knew what it was, some girls didn't then
we were told you can't go swimming but don't you wanna have
	children
so much for confessionalism
I won't call on the moon like in a real poem
or anthropology or the bible or talk about being untouchable
or power etc. I've nothing at all to say but to exercise
my freedom to speak about everything

now that poems've got everything in them
even rhetoric and dailiness plus the names of things again
including flowers like the spotted touch-me-not
so inviting to hummingbirds
and I'm writing one
I'd like to mention or say blatantly
I got my period today
probably like nobody
certainly in the nineteenth century ever did
and if you really wanna know
most of us you know
all get ours on the same day no kidding
and we talk about it frequently and peripatetically
Alice with Peggy Peggy with Marion Marion with me me
	with Anne
Anne with Alice Peggy with me Grace with Peggy Marion with Grace

So Friends! Hold the bloody sponge up!
For all to see!

From Another Smashed Pinecone by Bernadette Mayer, published by United Artists Books. Copyright © 1998 by Bernadette Mayer. Reprinted by permission of United Artists Books. All rights reserved.

From Another Smashed Pinecone by Bernadette Mayer, published by United Artists Books. Copyright © 1998 by Bernadette Mayer. Reprinted by permission of United Artists Books. All rights reserved.

Bernadette Mayer

Bernadette Mayer

Bernadette Mayer was born in 1945 in Brooklyn, New York. She received

by this poet

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
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
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