Four Poems by Kim Addonizio





































































































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In the Box Called Pleasure
Kim Addonizio

The Philosopher's Club
Kim Addonizio




New Year's Day

The rain this morning falls
on the last of the snow

and will wash it away. I can smell
the grass again, and the torn leaves

being eased down into the mud.
The few loves I've been allowed

to keep are still sleeping
on the west coast. Here in Virginia

I walk across the fields with only
a few young cows for company.
Big-boned and shy,
they are like girls I remember

from junior high, who never
spoke, who kept their heads

lowered and their arms crossed against
their new breasts. Those girls

are nearly forty now. Like me,
they must sometimes stand

at a window late at night, looking out
on a silent back yard, at one

rusting lawn chair and the sheer walls
of other people's houses.

They must lie down some afternoons
and cry hard for whoever used

to make them happiest,
and wonder how their lives

have carried them
this far without ever once

explaining anything. I don't know
why I'm walking out here

with my coat darkening
and my boots sinking in, coming up

with a mild sucking sound
I like to hear. I don't care

where those girls are now.
Whatever they've made of it

they can have. Today I want
to resolve nothing.

I only want to walk
a little longer in the cold

blessing of the rain,
and lift my face to it.


Near Heron Lake

During the night, horses passed close

to our parked van. Inside I woke cold

under the sleeping bag, hearing their heavy sway,

the gravel harsh under their hooves as they moved off

down the bank to the river. You slept on,

though maybe in your dream you felt them enter

our life just long enough to cause that slight

stirring, a small spasm in your limbs and then

a sigh so quiet, so close to being nothing

but the next breath, I could believe you never guessed

how those huge animals broke out of the dark and came

toward us. Or how afraid I was before I understood

what they wereonly horses, not anything

that would hurt us. The next morning

I watched you at the edge of the river

washing your face, your bare chest beaded with bright water,

and knew how much we needed this,

the day ahead with its calm lake

we would swim in, naked, able to touch again.

You were so beautiful. And I thought

the marriage might never end.



God it's sexual, opening a beer when you swore you wouldn't drink tonight,
taking the first deep gulp, the foam backing up in the long amber neck

of the Pacifico bottle as you set it on the counter, the head spilling over
so you bend to fit your mouth against the cold lip

and drink, because what you are, aren't you, is a drinker
maybe not a lush,
not an alcoholic, not yet anyway, but don't you want

a glass of something most nights, don't you need the gesture
of reaching for it, raising it high and swallowing down and savoring

the sweetness, or the scalding, knowing you're going to give yourself to it
like a lover, whether or not he fills up the leaky balloon of your heart

don't you believe in trying to fill it, no matter what the odds,
don't you believe it still might happen, aren't you that kind of woman?

Good Girl

Look at you, sitting there being good.

After two years you’re still dying for a cigarette.

And not drinking on weekdays, who thought that one up?

Don’t you want to run to the corner right now

for a fifth of vodka and have it with cranberry juice

and a nice lemon slice, wouldn’t the backyard

that you’re so sick of staring out into

look better then, the tidy yard your landlord tends

day and nightthe fence with its fresh coat of paint,

the ash-free barbeque, the patio swept clean of small twigs

don’t you want to mess it all up, to roll around

like a dog in his flowerbeds? Aren’t you a dog anyway,

always groveling for love and begging to be petted?

You ought to get into the garbage and lick the insides

of the can, the greasy wrappers, the picked-over bones,

you ought to drive your snout into the coffee grounds.

Ah, coffee! Why not gulp some down with four cigarettes

and then blast naked into the streets, and leap on the first

beautiful man you find? The words Ruin me, haven’t they

been jailed in your throat for forty years, isn’t it time

you set them loose in slutty dresses and torn fishnets

to totter around in five-inch heels and smeared mascara?

Sure it’s time. You’ve rolled over long enough.

Forty, forty-one. At the end of all this

there’s one lousy biscuit, and it tastes like dirt.

So get going. Listen, they’re howling for you now:

up and down the block your neighbors’ dogs

burst into frenzied barking and won’t shut up.


KIM ADDONIZIO is the author of two poetry collections from BOA Editions.  She is co-author, with Dorianne Laux, of The Poet's Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry (W.W. Norton). "New Year's Day" originally appeared in River City. "Affair" previously appeared in Fourteen Hills. "Near Heron Lake" appeared in Willow Springs.   And "Good Girl" appeared in Many Mountains Moving.  These four poems are from Kim Addonizio's forthcoming book, TELL ME (BOA Editions).

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