Monthly Archives: January 2011

Readings, heartache, community and poems.


Dear anonymous reader, it’s pretty amazing how the world switches the concept of privacy, isn’t it? Little 12 year old girls, 20 yrs ago, used to giggle around me in school, making sure we each wrote in diaries in codes, and had locks on the little journals, and we pretended that our deepest feelings (heh) were most worthy of safekeeping and hiding. Now, I have a couple of books published and anyone who walks into a bookstore or clicks on Amazon knows the trajectory of my disastrous love affairs, how much I miss my beautiful mother, and what I think the Zionists should do with their racist thuggish regime of an occupation.
But I digress.
Openness in poetry is, I guess, important. My aunt told me she thinks I am a little nuts, to be publishing these words, that it is akin to standing naked in the gusts of wind of an open highway filled with onlookers. Ok, she just said the naked part, I supplied the rest.
I guess I dont know exactly why I am here posting this. Maybe it is because I love Kim Addonizio and I want to share her work with you. Maybe because I am heavy of heart and need to write and no poetry will emerge from the apathy that has grasped hold of my feet. Maybe it is to share some good news about the Poeticians- ahh my beloved Poeticians- taking part of the Emirates Literature Festival coming up in March in Dubai. Eight of us will read to a new audience and showcase some of our best work, I hope.
Here is the link:

I will post the detailed version, with our funny bios and our goofy pics, soon.
Sometimes it is ok if the language is simple. I have been thinking of privacy and lexicons, of simple poetry and complicated opinion pieces, and which ones garner more respect in my life. I have been contemplating rampant feelings and cerebral thoughts, and I have been talking to my girlfriends about shutting down hyper emotions and maintaining control, about not opening to the world or his brown eyes, about expecting the worst from whoever we hand our center to, delicately, only to realize they might look a gift horse in the mouth.
I decided when I was 22 years old that I would never become bitter. That I would be trampled upon, lied to, left behind, betrayed, taken for granted, abandoned, shouted at, what have you…that I would be able to experience the smashing of love, in whatever shape that love transpired. I would be able to love again and again. I would not be bitter. And ten years later, I still attest to that vow, even driving down long barren highways in Dubai, experiencing the words of friends whose advice urges one to close up the senses, move on to the next plaything, and protect that fragile center from the debris of those who crack the distance between two loving bodies, leaving little cement pieces of my skin to unravel in the night.

Here is Kim Addonizio. Maybe she knows more what she’s talking about than I do.

You Don’t Know What Love Is

You Don’t Know What Love Is
but you know how to raise it in me
like a dead girl winched up from a river. How to
wash off the sludge, the stench of our past.
How to start clean. This love even sits up
and blinks; amazed, she takes a few shaky steps.
Any day now she’ll try to eat solid food. She’ll want
to get into a fast car, one low to the ground, and drive
to some cinderblock shithole in the desert
where she can drink and get sick and then
dance in nothing but her underwear. You know
where she’s headed, you know she’ll wake up
with an ache she can’t locate and no money
and a terrible thirst. So to hell
with your warm hands sliding inside my shirt
and your tongue down my throat
like an oxygen tube. Cover me
in black plastic. Let the mourners through.

Kim Addonizio

“What Do Women Want?”

I want a red dress.
I want it flimsy and cheap,
I want it too tight, I want to wear it
until someone tears it off me.
I want it sleeveless and backless,
this dress, so no one has to guess
what’s underneath. I want to walk down
the street past Thrifty’s and the hardware store
with all those keys glittering in the window,
past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old
donuts in their café, past the Guerra brothers
slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly,
hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders.
I want to walk like I’m the only
woman on earth and I can have my pick.
I want that red dress bad.
I want it to confirm
your worst fears about me,
to show you how little I care about you
or anything except what
I want. When I find it, I’ll pull that garment
from its hanger like I’m choosing a body
to carry me into this world, through
the birth-cries and the love-cries too,
and I’ll wear it like bones, like skin,
it’ll be the goddamned
dress they bury me in.

First Kiss

by Kim Addonizio

Afterwards you had that drunk, drugged look
my daughter used to get, when she had let go
of my nipple, her mouth gone slack and her eyes
turned vague and filmy, as though behind them
the milk was rising up to fill her
whole head, that would loll on the small
white stalk of her neck so I would have to hold her
closer, amazed at the sheer power
of satiety, which was nothing like the needing
to be fed, the wild flailing and crying until she fastened
herself to me and made the seal tight
between us, and sucked, drawing the liquid down
and out of my body; no, this was the crowning
moment, this giving of herself, knowing
she could show me how helpless
she was—that’s what I saw, that night when you
pulled your mouth from mine and
leaned back against a chain-link fence,
in front of a burned-out church: a man
who was going to be that vulnerable,
that easy and impossible to hurt.

The First Line is the Deepest

by Kim Addonizio

I have been one acquainted with the spatula,
the slotted, scuffed, Teflon-coated spatula

that lifts a solitary hamburger from pan to plate,
acquainted with the vibrator known as the Pocket Rocket

and the dildo that goes by Tex,
and I have gone out, a drunken bitch,

in order to ruin
what love I was given,

and also I have measured out
my life in little pills—Zoloft,

Restoril, Celexa,

I have. For I am a poet. And it is my job, my duty
to know wherein lies the beauty

of this degraded body,
or maybe

it’s the degradation in the beautiful body,
the ugly me

groping back to my desk to piss
on perfection, to lay my kiss

of mortal confusion
upon the mouth of infinite wisdom.

My kiss says razors and pain, my kiss says
America is charged with the madness

of God. Sundays, too,
the soldiers get up early, and put on their fatigues in the blue-

black day. Black milk. Black gold. Texas tea.
Into the valley of Halliburton rides the infantry—

Why does one month have to be the cruelest,
can’t they all be equally cruel? I have seen the best

gamers of your generation, joysticking their M1 tanks through
the sewage-filled streets. Whose

world this is I think I know.


This gorgeous sunflower we call Emma.


I had the pleasure a few years ago of befriending a young, spirited, sunshine-filled tough warrior called Emma. She had moved to Beirut to study Arabic. She played capoeira with us. She wrote poetry and attended the Poeticians and read her lovely poems. She danced and befriended men from the refugee camps, and gave us laughter and naughty twinkly eyes and music CD’s and memories of beach front parties. She supported me through tough times, and applauded my first book. She is a gifted lovely young woman, and today she is in another continent, probably spreading just as much mischevious love and laughter as ever.  Here are some of her poems. Her bio is under the Poets page.

at twenty-five

i’m all wild eyes n unrepentant hips

burn my tongue on this rush of youth

reach out to touch that reflection

fearless, unrecognizable

out my window the city stretch electric

into dirty sundown n churning concrete

arteries of light roil n buck against the night

the mirror image offers no apology

she listens to no warnings about the thick

undertow of desire in glances caught across

streets turned to jumping rivers,

she walks through this city apocalyptic

with rain sucking on burnt fingers


you orange blossom & diesel

red nail polish

5 am call to prayer

you salt on my lips you

slicksong arak back alley kiss

burning tires & hands held under the table

you cornerstand ice cream & bones

hot wax, tear gas

dreamlilt midnight fairuz radio

rocket launchers & the corners of my babu’s eyes

snipers on the roof

sweet coffee

our honey skin oh backseat

blacklace gold chain sweatgames

ya beirut

homeforeign & aching

sweet mint, dabke boom & return

you hope you high heels you

gardenia you smoke

home from kirkuk,

my third grade love said

the freakiest thing

is that so many of them

hanging from doorways

looked just like

your dad