Watching the Complex Train-Track Changes

By Bernadette Mayer b. 1945 Bernadette Mayer

To Men

You put on an ornate ballgown
You say “someone has to do it”
You take me to where you work,
The inside of a pyramid with chasms,
Watching the complex train-track changes
Products and objects make love to my father
Two babies are born—Bruno and Daisy
You take your shirt off looking boylike & lovely
You get on the plane, both clown & wizard
And then get off in a comedy of manners
Our dates become a comedy of dinners
Your name rhymes with clothes
Your plane folds & flies away
Without us, I’ll make the next one
We are enclosed in spaceless epics by breathless bricks
& still we’ll meet like runes or the leashes for hawks
Let’s go! Can we stay? Go to sleep.
A tree wouldn’t talk or weep if I-forget-what
And you in the train’s opulent rooms
Switch your cock to a baby and then say
“Must there (not) be a law against this?”
You add, “I have been thinking of you in my head”
You wear green glitter on your shirt instead of
A tie, that’s how I recognize you as you
You are the prep cook the sous-chef you make
Duplicating potato salad like the loaves & fishes
You create gorgeous paper-like sculptures of foods
We go down in the car through threatening snows
To arrive in a second to eat in a renovated place
You and I tell “what” we are at the end of a movie
Our podium of soft loud feet flies by accident
I take the train to your house to hear Shakespeare & Verdi
Everyone applauds when you walk in. The director
Holds up each actor & describes his physical being
I talk to your father but only by telephone
You have the royal blue 8 � x 11 notebook with the lock on it
I want one but you say you cant get them anymore
I walk twice through that city I’ve been in before
All through its rooms, its streets and its Commons

"Watching the Complex Train-Track Changes" by Bernadette Mayer, from A Bernadette Mayer Reader. Copyright © 1968 by Bernadette Mayer. Used by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

Source: A Bernadette Mayer Reader (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1992)

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Poet Bernadette Mayer b. 1945

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Subjects Social Commentaries, Gender & Sexuality, Relationships, Men & Women

Poetic Terms Imagery, Metaphor

 Bernadette  Mayer


An avant-garde writer associated with the New York School of poets, Bernadette Mayer was born in Brooklyn, New York, and has spent most of her life in New York City. Her collections of poetry include Midwinter Day (1982, 1999), A Bernadette Mayer Reader (1992), The Desire of Mothers to Please Others in Letters (1994), Another Smashed Pinecone (1998), and Poetry State Forest (2008). Known for her innovative use of language, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, Gender & Sexuality, Relationships, Men & Women

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Poetic Terms Imagery, Metaphor

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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