Failures in Infinitives Poem by Bernadette Mayer

Failures in Infinitives

Rating: 4.4

why am i doing this? Failure
to keep my work in order so as
to be able to find things
to paint the house
to earn enough money to live on
to reorganize the house so as
to be able to paint the house &
to be able to find things and
earn enough money so as
to be able to put books together
to publish works and books
to have time
to answer mail & phone calls
to wash the windows
to make the kitchen better to work in
to have the money to buy a simple radio
to listen to while working in the kitchen
to know enough to do grownups work in the world
to transcend my attitude
to an enforced poverty
to be able to expect my checks
to arrive on time in the mail
to not always expect that they will not
to forget my mother's attitudes on humility or
to continue
to assume them without suffering
to forget how my mother taunted my father
about money, my sister about i cant say it
failure to forget mother and father enough
to be older, to forget them
to forget my obsessive uncle
to remember them some other way
to remember their bigotry accurately
to cease to dream about lions which always is
to dream about them, I put my hand in the lion's mouth
to assuage its anger, this is not a failure
to notice that's how they were; failure
to repot the plants
to be neat
to create & maintain clear surfaces
to let a couch or a chair be a place for sitting down
and not a table
to let a table be a place for eating & not a desk
to listen to more popular music
to learn the lyrics
to not need money so as
to be able to write all the time
to not have to pay rent, con ed or telephone bills
to forget parents' and uncle's early deaths so as
to be free of expecting care; failure
to love objects
to find them valuable in any way; failure
to preserve objects
to buy them and
to now let them fall by the wayside; failure
to think of poems as objects
to think of the body as an object; failure
to believe; failure
to know nothing; failure
to know everything; failure
to remember how to spell failure; failure
to believe the dictionary & that there is anything
to teach; failure
to teach properly; failure
to believe in teaching
to just think that everybody knows everything
which is not my failure; I know everyone does; failure
to see not everyone believes this knowing and
to think we cannot last till the success of knowing
to wash all the dishes only takes ten minutes
to write a thousand poems in an hour
to do an epic, open the unwashed window
to let in you know who and
to spirit thoughts and poems away from concerns
to just let us know, we will
to paint your ceilings & walls for free

Glen Kappy 08 October 2018

I had enough of this one about a third of the way through. And even in that span there were errors—in transcription? The author’s? -GK

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Anil Kumar Panda 08 October 2018

Nice one with a long shopping list. Enjoyed.

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Edward Kofi Louis 08 October 2018

To have time! ! Thanks for sharing this poem with us.

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Sandra Feldman 08 October 2018

To long a list To poetically or otherwise Exist.

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Mahtab Bangalee 08 October 2018

its another hand craft of writing - nice

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Nahidha Nahii 23 October 2023


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Sylvia Frances Chan 21 October 2023

Citing from her Bio: Mayer's poetry often challenges poetic conventions by experimenting with form and stream-of-consciousness; readers have compared her to Gertrude Stein, Dadaist writers, and James Joyce.

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Sylvia Frances Chan 21 October 2023

Congratulations, dear Poetess Bernadette, to be chosen by Poem Hunter and Editors as The Modern Poem Of The Day..5 Stars Full for this tiny Epic poem. It's time now for me to learn something new and that is from you through this cute poem. Thank you so much!

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Sylvia Frances Chan 09 October 2019

My Comment for YOU in the form of A Poem I just submitted now Tuesday 8 Oct 2019 has the Title: To Bernadette Mayer: " Successes In Present Tenses And All There Is…." - Poem by Sylvia Frances Chan, Thank you so much for reading my poem for you, wherever you are dear great poetess, with the best wishes, Sylvia Frances Chan, Dutch poetess, The Netherlands.

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Mahtab Bangalee 08 October 2019

to forget how my mother taunted my father about money, my sister about i cant say it failure to forget mother and father enough........./// great writing, greatly penned FAILURES IN INFINITIVES

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Bernadette Mayer

Bernadette Mayer

Brooklyn / New York
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