Ways of Making Dinner

By | 1 August 2021

After Hera Lindsay Bird
After Bernadette Mayer

In the 1980s, Bernadette Mayer instructed:
“Write the poem: Ways of Making Love. List them.”
In 2016, Hera Lindsay Bird published ‘Ways of Making Love after Bernadette Mayer’.

Back in the 1980s, Mayer instructed:
“Rewrite someone else’s writing. Experiment with theft and plagiarism.”
In 2021, I re-write Bird’s ‘Ways of Making Love after Bernadette Mayer’ (2016), as
‘Ways of Making Dinner after Hera Lindsay Bird after Bernadette Mayer’.

I insert myself into a game between two writers.
Uninvited, but hopefully not unwelcome, I play.
As if we all knew the rules from the beginning.

As one blade sharpens another blade.
As two frozen chicken thighs defrost in the silvery corners of a kitchen sink.
Lonely krill find their home in the belly of a whale.
So tiny we lose sight of them, retracting our telescopes
in the jowls of a decaying beast.

You are chewing gum, and I am the world’s deepest hunger.
I am an elaborate silver service and you are Antiques Roadshow,
estimating my price.
You invite the crowd to dine, insisting they lick the metallic crevasses of residual dust.

Chocolate soil spills across a garden bed.
Pumpkin tendrils coil, binding our wrists to our ankles.

It’s like watching the Food Channel while nauseated
or a hairdryer rising dough.
Like caterpillars at Yum Cha, going hungry due to their limited dexterity.

Native bees gather around your cactus thumbs.
I open my hand, like a stop-motion droplet bursting on impact.

I want you in a Roman vomitorium, expressing everything you’ve ingested into
sacred vessels of Western material culture.
In the labyrinthine pantry
of The Louvre.
In the depths of fermenting kimchi, our skin tingling with probiotic bacteria.
In the cold aisles of a pillaged supermarket
because writing poetry about eating together
when you could be writing poetry about fucking
is sad comfort for the insatiable.
It’s like baking a sponge cake from rubber.
It’s like sucking the marrow from an anaemic ox’s tail.
It’s like studying to become a veterinarian surgeon for eight years
so you can gorge on animal feed
absorbing the nutritional iron of livestock
before eating the livestock,
knowing you did everything in your power to suck the marrow from their existence.
But love isn’t calculated malpractice
no matter what this poem would have you believe.
The years bleach eggshells degrading into compost
embraces unfurl like petals in a too dry summer
and here we are sitting down to dinner
as if we had never done so before.

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