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Poem Number 11

Girls, Look Out for Todd Bernstein

Jason Bredle

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
FOR TODD BERNSTEIN on the side
of a Village Pantry.

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

Copyright 2004 by Jason Bredle.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced with permission (click for permissions information).