Property is Robbery and other works by Bernadette Mayer


Bernadette Mayer...called "consummate" by Robert Creeley and "a poet of extraordinary inventiveness, erotic energy and challenge, and ironic intelligence" by Michael Palmer," Bernadette Mayer can be found in all her variety in latest book, Poetry State Forest (New Directions November 2008), which contains nature poems, sonnets, prose poetry, pastiches, long sequences, and epigrams.


Property Is Robbery

I wish everything was free
free as the postal service, a bird, a library
in the 19th century Nicolai Tesla
discovered, while researching lightning
that heat & electricity are freely in the earth
but rich people said: we have to find a way
            to make people pay

it's common to think nothing's good unless you pay
for it, it's not the same to say what's worthless is free
& what's free is worthless, think about the earth
the books you get from the library
the fucking internet stuff, even lightning
lightning the obsession of my hero Tesla

solutions to physics problems could be visualized by Tesla
who discovered human like pigeons didn't have to pay
get oil bills, it's like getting a bill for lightning
it's because of capitalism people denigrate what's free
I'd like to make my home in the library
going out once in a while to step on the real earth

come to think of it, I'd live in a cave in the earth
or inhabit hotels & never pay bills like Tesla
who'd hang out with the pigeons by the public library
avoiding humans who wanted everybody to pay
for what's in the air or over there, it's free
I prefer free shows, birds at the feeder, thunder & lightning

what's better than a great show of lightning?
I'll tell you what - as dinner guests, invite ms. earth
who've come all the way from Free, Free
founded on the principles of the physicist Tesla
where everything's free, you don't have to pay
& you can ring up a real person at the library

night or day to answer any question, even about the library
itself, or an abstruse on about lightning
or about how much $, in 2009, you would have had to pay
when you look in the dictionary there's a picture of Tesla
next to the definition of the word "free"

the library's free
Tesla was a student of lightning
you don't have to pay for the earth


Impalpable, Unflappable


I needed love or money & then
a woman appeared at my door holding
a bottle of absinthe, she said
I guess we'll be spending some time together
I welcomed her, she gave me both + the leisure
to make a boat in a bottle

turns out she was a bright blue stripe
not the blue of the sky but Persian blue
silky & tasting of avocado & peaches, to me
she felt like a prediction & wore colocasia
leaves mixed with ranunculous flowers
it seems she meant well, underneath
she'd become a coral reef, fluorescent fish
swimming down the streets of her largesse

           welcome maybe, absinthe woman
           I'll enfold you hematitely


                                                             with Philip Good


I need a thousand red terry-cloth bath robes
and how about many more Lily-of-the-Valley plants
another year another log on the fire another
snowstorm for the first day of what? another
game of scrabble, another curry dish, turkey in the
oven, another poop for Hector, another bark, a look
toward the sound of reverse
out on the street beyond the closed doors of
this old house that will give us shelter in the
New Year maybe, if it's red as a robe or
tight as a drum or sound as a healthy bank note
forlorn as a drunken driver, the near year is new
or will be, green as avocado, a blooming willow
or onion at the fair, a toast to all oblong willows!
a new magazine subscription open invite to submit
poems about the year 2009; Hector says what's all
the fuss? will there be anything good to eat?
you can't eat the typewriter, it's not liver
we're having turkey curry & chocolate cups of mousse
cannot remember everything we ate in 2008 or who
rules which nation, but Bernadette had a poem in
The Nation and a new book came out and she's my
heroine, I adore her every oblong movement
and the way she says "obfuscated," don't you?
and that Phil is a peach. did you hear he'll
have a book coming out in 09? Phil's peachy-keen
but if he's a peach, I want to be an apricot
poof you're an apricot, the best apricot in the
county. but I'm not in season, I must be imported
or in a can! In this last year of the first
decade of the new century!