Bernadette Mayer, p.1

to Hannah

A lion is attacking me
Yet I do love you
Yet why do you do it
I'm going outside for just a minute
I think my best thoughts are left resting here
Just a minute, will we talk again soon

A lion is attacking me
Whose heart is truly in the clouds
You fool, poetry said to me
You typify the worst in me just when you were getting at
A message I sent you secretly
To you alone, impostor

And so in answering hastily
I fear you will think me the greater fool
I certainly see the brain as like Marie
One day astonishing and the next bereft
My brain is like a baby and you bring out the insane
in me, usually by securely tying me up

Leaflets of fond intercoastal knowledge
Are shared between people as legitimate as Puritans
And active Californians but every other day
I see my most fond attempts to be phenomenal
Are less than I've been reading and observing
better not to try evening what I do with what I see

I could imitate but I don't read poetry
To keep up maintenance on the part of my brain
I know is superfluous and valuable enough
not to rest easy or know all about it
You could call it hermetic idealism
Or plain perfunctory saintly clout

So there you are, you don't rest easy
I'd love to list my weaknesses
And to address you as unhealthy
But just as the bedbugs are annihilated
Without investing in the new mattress
So the dross in here will soon go away

If you can bet on the horses I can drive my car
So why be indulgent, just listen
A moment ago, I felt insecure in the snow
Without gears to shift
Now, after all, I'll drive the automatic
Or if I have to, tell another whole story

All the blood sugar rises and fathers all do
My father in all of this, it's all too clear to me
All of what, I wouldn't sit on his knee
Because reminders of all his whiskers
Were all too prominent on his face
All told, he saw me in my new bathing suit

Who's editing this book, who's typed these variations
You're betting at the races, I don't believe it
Lewis will be alone at the museum, why don't you get up here
I'm glad those jerks have wised up, are you also warm enough
I see what you're saying but when anybody tells me I'm right
A lion is attacking me, that's instinct

There's nothing to steal from Proust
I guess what I mean to say is sanity isn't precision
Just as the comic part of instinct is as holy
As for instance, when I see a person on the street
I wonder can he or she benefit from my notions
Is he sympathetic, will she offer me a book of poems

But I also think, this woman is denigrating herself
She walks too funny, holds her head
In some peculiar relation to her hand and sways
She's always done it that way
But I can't just laught because I know I'm so stupid
I always miss the most important part and forget the point

Cars are another thing, I don't know
I used to drive them well, well I don't know
Truly the unconscious mind can put understanding in reverse
And life is destitute without its blank field
A small body will run from a large one
Or else he'll have a dream that the bigger man lost his job

You read alot and travel too
If a lion is attacking me you know
It is only to perform and to please
What manifesto can we write
Yes I think we'll change the world by insisting
But so what? Did you ever raise the roofs of even your own house

The animal state is too tense, blood boils
Heart beats and I get gooseflesh again
And with good reason, to facilitate flight
My bowels are empty, last night
I dream I am lifted so far up I am choking
No I'm only joking, I was looking for Jackie Gleason

Another version of the star in the movie I saw, Bing Crosby in
"Country Girl," I never mention my father's presumptuous brain
Because I draw too much on him, little Theodore
Friendly Ted, you want to hear about that
I'd love to tell you but a lion is at the door
Only on vacation did we share the same bed

So here I am again
I felt I'd better answer sooner when
Our letters crossed in the mails, as you know
Ideas are helpful, I cannot guess, it's just the snow
Do come to Lenox, don't go to the coast
And don't go west, to Buffalo