Bernadette reads backwards
moved from dump to dump
with a long will and a fainting lawn chair
twitching with the news ticker
crude as a tarry shorebird
she smokes Marlboro Reds in bed and has a raccoon purse
don’t ask her to hip check the bedbugs right out of you
as the smokescreen of dimming sun only belongs to the thumps of rats and the half-soused barefoot derelicts and the retired handymen
and her
while she wails along with that Phil Spector Sound
in the bathroom
concentrating on getting along with the spiders scaling the tiles
and keeping her hissing cat at a shoe’s length from it all
always sure to fold a few new hydrangeas into her mind
balmy with the day’s rising temp
no a.c. and the windows are mostly stuck closed
she sweats the larger stuff and kicks her feet at the lamplight

Bernadette pastes phrases clipped from magazines together on her walls
and uses her typewriter like a machinegun
her hugs are like barbwire and she always kisses on the mouth
shrugged through loafing she manhandles suitcases and guitars
“how about a little blasting honesty right there for you”
she might scream at a pigeon
if the mood encompasses her
pummeling the sweetness out of an elderberry pie
or moving her car for street cleaning while still in her pajamas

Bernadette’s folding all-in with a pair of unkind jacks in her socks
and has the most intoxicating laugh over the phone
all the wild otters in Singapore
wouldn’t be enough to keep her away
she’s got some nerve on her
and she really knows her way around a bowling alley

Bernadette gets squirrely if she’s cornered
she’ll put a powder-blue dress on to fetch the mail
and up on the roof she’s just a dream
with a dirty martini in one hand and a book on incendiary devices in the other
she might invite you in
just to tell you that you’re the kind of human she could really go for
and then make you ginger tea with pan-fried banana bread

Bernadette will see you on a Tuesday night
after a rare ribeye steak and some fried zucchini and a glass-and-a-half of cooking bourbon
and she’ll lisp her curses to you all through the evening
and maybe put on a record and dance crazy-legged a bit with you after all

Bernadette ain’t too cool to grab you by the lapels and gush
“You’ll never always only ever be my e pluribus unum, Doll Legs”
while mangling the sound of boots on gravel in her teeth
and then she’ll make your heart do tiny backflips with a quick pour of her eyes
when she lisps your own name into your ear
or tells you
“I adore every aspect of your person”
and
“What we need around here are more eccentrics and some decent imagination”
plus there are no tiny emerald diamonds gleaming in her looks
or anything like that
she’ll just push you around about the news until you somersault onto a couch
crashed there with a wounded deliverance
you’ll get misty eyed maybe
and ask for a stiffer drink
as the clubfooted moon wanes into the craggy nooks of apartment buildings and gleams cockeyed and silvery through the torn curtains

Bernadette
she celebrates her own holidays
she won’t sleep until the cows moo hallelujah all through the morning
and she’s taking your picture with a black-and-white Polaroid
and she’s trashed but not as bad as all that
and she’s flopped into the manger with a husky sigh
and she’s going for it
and she’s lost in a raging stupor
over you

she’s over you
over you
after all that lasts and never does
and moves on
and on

she’s over you
over you

and lastly
over
you
for good

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