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