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

More by Bernadette Mayer

Ode on Periods

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!

First Turn to Me...

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 dont 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

Midwinter Day [Excerpt]

I write this love as all transition
As if I'm in instinctual flight,
                                    a small lady bug
With only two black dots on its back
Climbs like a blind turtle on my pen
And begins to drink ink in the light
                                             of tradition
We're allowed to crowd love in
Like a significant myth
                              resting still on paper
I remember being bitten by a spider
It was like feeling what they call
                                          the life of the mind
Stinging my thigh like Dante
                                     this guilty beetle
Is a frightening thing
When it shows its wings
And leaps like the story of a woman who
                                                     once in this house
Said the world was like a madhouse
                                              cold winds blowing
And life looks like some malignant disease,
Viewed from the heights of reason
Which I don't believe in
                              I know the place
Taken by tradition is like superstition
And even what they call the
Literary leaves less for love
                                    I know
The world is straight ice
I know backwards the grief of life like chance
                                                          if I can say that
I can say easily I know you
                                    like the progression
From memory to what they call freedom
Or reason
             though it's not reason at all
It's an ideal like anarchism though it's not an ideal
It's a kind of time that has flown away from causes
Or gotten loose from them, pried loose
Or used them up, gotten away
                                       no one knows why
Nothing happens
There is no reason, there's no dream
                                               it's not inherited
Like peace but it's not peace
                                     there's no beginning
Like religion but it is not God
It's more like middle age or humor
Without elucidation
                         like greeting-card verse
This love is a recognized occasion
I know you like I know my times
As if I were God and gave you birth
                                               if I can say that
I can say I am Ra who drew from himself
To give birth to Geb and Nut, Isis and Osiris
Though it isn't decorous today to say this
                                                     instead I say
You are the resource for my sense of decorum
Knowing you as Ra knew the great of magic, 
His imaginary wife, 
                         and without recourse to love
Men and women are like tears
                                       I would lose my memory, 
I would sleep twelve hours, I would wake up
And get into my boat with my scribe,
I would study the twelve hours of the day
Spending an hour in each
                                 I would have a secret name
I would rush upon the guilty without pity
Till the goddess of my eye in her vengeance
Overwhelmed my own rage
                                    as you and I take turns 
In love's anger like the royal children
Born every morning to die that night
                                                I know you speak
And are as suddenly forgiven, 
It's the consequence of love' having no cause
Then we wonder what we can say
                                            I can say
I turn formally to love to spend the day,
To you to form the night as what I know, 
An image of love allows what I can't say,
Sun's lost in the window and love is below
Love is the same and does not keep that name
I keep that name and I am not the same
A shadow of ice exchanges the color of light,
Love's figure to begin the absent night.