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Happy Poetry Month: ‘The Helens of Troy, NY’ by Bernadette Mayer

Our last excerpt from the new Poetry Pamphlets series comes from Bernadette Mayer’s The Helens of Troy, NY. To create the collection, Mayer visited, talked to, and photographed (see below) every woman named Helen living in the city of Troy, in Upstate New York. 

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HELEN WORTHINGTON BONESTEEL

            i could never understand why
            my mother named me helen!

sleigh-rides to school
with a buffalo robe on
                                   dog barking
everybody belonged to the grange
my father played the flute
with a missing finger
                                peddled milk
my brother broke his leg
                                      hated school
i got married three times
                                      TROY’S ON FIRE!