Library of Congress

Site Title Here

The Library of Congress > Poetry & Literature> Poet Laureate > Past Poet Laureate Projects > Poetry 180 > Full List of Poems > Poem 011
{ site_name: 'Poetry', subscribe_url:'/share/sites/library-of-congress/poetry.php' }

Back to Full List of 180 Poems

Girls, Look Out for Todd Bernstein

Because after sitting out for a spell
he’s back with a degree in accounting and a high
paying position in one of the leading pharma-
ceutical corporations in the country
and aspirations of owning that exotic 
yellow sports car, license plate 
EVIL. And like Dennis Meng at Sycamore 
Chevrolet stakes his reputation 
on his fully reconditioned used cars. 
I stake my reputation on telling you 
Todd Bernstein means business this time, 
girls. No more of this being passed 
over for abusive alcoholic football
stars. He’s got a velour shirt now. 
No more of your excuses—if he wants you, 
you’re there. None of this I’m washing 
my hair Friday night nonsense—come on, 
you think Todd Bernstein’s going to fall 
for that? He knows you’re not studying, not 
busy working on some local political 
campaign, not having the guy who played 
Cockroach on The Cosby Show over
for dinner, not writing any great American
novel. He’s seen your stuff for God’s sake,
and it’s simply nothing more than mediocre,
long prose poems with titles like
“The Falling” and “Crucible” and “Waking 
to Death” that force impossible metaphors, 
despairing about love and womanhood 
and how bad your life is even though 
you grew up happily in suburban America, 
or at least as happily as anyone can grow up 
in suburban America, which normally, you know, 
consists of the appearance of happiness while 
your dad is doing three secretaries 
on the side and your mom pretends not to know 
and brags to the entire town about how you’re 
an actor about to star in a sitcom about the mis-
adventures of a cable TV repairperson 
who, while out on a routine installation 
one day, accidentally electrically blasts 
herself into the living room of a family 
of barbarian warlords on a planet near 
Alpha Centauri who force her into slavery
before sending her on a pillage mission
to a planet of Cloxnors who capture her 
and place her in a torture institution 
where she meets a vulnerable Meeb whom 
she convinces, because of her cable TV 
repairperson skills, to let her become nanny 
to its impressionable Meeblets just before 
it’s about to rip off her limbs with its ferocious 
abnons and devour her. The results, 
according to your mom, are hilarious, but
come on, you and I both know the story is
just so predictable. And Todd knows damn well
your writing doesn’t pull off 
any metaphors for the happiness that was
taken from you by some dude who played
the guitar and called himself a musician
when all he could really do was play 
a couple of chords and sing about true love 
and alligators and how the alligator 
represents true love which somehow 
explains why somebody cut open
an alligator one time in Florida
to find a golfer. There’s just no fooling
Todd. Sure he’ll act like he’s interested, 
that’s Todd Bernstein, and he’ll make 
remote claims that he too has written 
or been artistic at some point in his life, 
but Todd Bernstein knows all you girls 
really want is a piece of good old 
Todd Bernstein. No longer will any 
strange auras enter the bedroom
during sex and keep him from maintaining
an erection, no longer will any women
walk out on him repulsed. If anybody’s 
walking out after sex, it’ll be 
Todd Bernstein, I can assure you.
He won’t be humiliating himself by falling 
down a flight of stairs in front of a group 
of Japanese tourists anymore, but rather 
coaxing entire masses of women into his bed-
room. Because that’s Todd Bernstein. He’s on 
the move. And he wants you to know, girls, 
that he’s well aware you certainly can’t learn 
Korean sitting around here which is why 
he’s out there right now, preparing
for the slew of women just beyond his sexual
horizon, spray-painting GIRLS, LOOK OUT
of a Village Pantry.

—Jason Bredle

From A Twelve Step Guide, 2004
New Michigan Press, Grand Rapids, MI

Copyright 2004 by Jason Bredle.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted “Girls, Look Out for Todd Bernstein” by Jason Bredle from A Twelve Step Guide. Copyright © 2004 New Michigan Press, with the permission of New Michigan Press.

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Jason Bredle (1976- ) is the author of the poetry collection Carnival (University of Akron Press, 2012).