My Romance by Kim Addonizio

On the car radio, the song we heard
that night at the hotel. I remember sitting
on the edge of the bed while you smoked
near the window, how you looked out
at the parking lot, then flicked away
the cigarette’s dead end. The way you came
to me then, and stood there while I
pressed my face against you and the song
receded and returned through random static.
Of course I knew nothing would be right
between us for long, despite the elegant room,
the expensive wine, the years I had wanted
exactly this, the two of us again
as we had been. Your hand stroking my hair,
my arms around your waist – I knew
what I was doing, listening hard to the tenderness
in the singer’s voice, tenderness threading
its way toward us so that what was missing
would be there later – in case our parting
didn’t mark me as I needed to be marked,
that memory would come back to hurt me.

Manners by Kim Addonizio

Address older people as Sir or Ma’am

unless they drift slowly into your lane

as you aim for the exit ramp.

Don’t call anyone dickhead, fuckface, or ass-hat;

these terms are reserved for ex-boyfriends

or anyone you once let get past second base

and later wished would be sucked into a sinkhole.

Yelling obscenities at the TV is okay,

as long as sports are clearly visible on the screen,

but it’s rude to mutter at the cleaning products in Safeway.

Also rude: mentioning bodily functions.

Therefore, sentiments such as “I went balls to the wall for her”

or “I have to piss like a chick with a pelvic disorder at a kegger contest”

are best left unexpressed.

Don’t’ say “chick,” which is demeaning

to the billions of sentient creatures

jammed in sheds, miserably pecking for millet.

Don’t talk about yourself. Ask questions

of others in order to show your interest.

How do you like my poem so far?

Do you think I’m pretty?

What would you give up to make me happy?

Don’t open your raincoat to display your nakedness.

Fondling a penis in public

is problematic, though Botero’s black sculpture

of a fat man in the Time-Warner building

in New York, his pee-pee rubbed gold,

seems to be an exception.

Please lie to me about your pedophilia

and the permafrost layer.

Stay in bed on bad hair days.

When the pulley of your childhood

unwinds the laundry line of your dysfunction,

here is a list of items to shove deep in the dryer:

disturbed brother’s T-shirt,

depressed mother’s socks and tennis racket,

tie worn by soused father driving the kids home

from McDonald’s Raw Bar. If you refuse

your host’s offer of alcohol, it is best to say,

“I’m so hung over, the very thought of drinking

makes me feel like projectile vomiting,”

or, “No thank you, it interferes with my medications.”

Hold your liquor whenever it is fearful

and lonely, whenever it needs your love.

Don’t interrupt me when I’m battering.

Divorce your cell phone in a romantic restaurant.

Here is an example

of a proper thank-you card:

Thank you for not sharing with me

the extrusions of your vague creative impulse.

Thank you for not believing those lies

everyone spreads about me, and for opening

the door to the next terrifying moment,

and thank you especially for not opening your mouth

while I’m trying to digest my roast chicken.

The Matter by Kim Addonizio

Some men break your heart in two…
—Dorothy Parker, “Experience”
Some men carry you to bed with your boots on.

Some men say your name like a verbal tic.

Some men slap on an emotional surcharge for every erotic encounter.

Some men are slightly mentally ill, and thinking of joining a gym.

Some men have moved on and can’t be seduced, even in the dream bars you meet them in.

Some men who were younger are now the age you were then.

Some men aren’t content with mere breakage, they’ve got to burn you to the ground.

Some men you’ve reduced to ashes are finally dusting themselves off.

Some men are made of fiberglass.

Some men have deep holes drilled in by war, you can’t fill them.

Some men are delicate and torn.

Some men will steal your bracelet if you let them spend the night.

Some men will want to fuck your poems, and instead they find you.

Some men will say, “I’d like to see how you look when you come,” and then hail a cab.

Some men are a list of ingredients with no recipe.

Some men never see you.

Some men will blindfold you during sex, then secretly put on heels.

Some men will try on your black fishnet stockings in a hotel in Rome, or Saran Wrap you

to a bedpost in New Orleans.

Some of these men will be worth trying to keep.

Some men will write smugly condescending reviews of you work, making you remember

these lines by Frank O’hara:

I cannot possibly think of you/other than you: the assassin/of my orchards.

Some men, let’s face it, really are too small.

Some men are too large, but it’s not usually a deal breaker.

Some men don’t have one at all.

Some men will slap you in a way you’ll like.

Some men will want to crawl inside you to die.

Some men never clean up the matter.

Some men hand you their hearts like leaflets

and some men’s hearts seem to circle forever: you catch sight of them on clear nights,

bright dots among the stars, and wait for their orbits to decay, for them to fall to earth.

You Were by Kim Addonizio

the bride of gin, bride
of men you followed home & let fuck you

only to discover that they already had a woman,
a woman who would never know

what you had done with her man, never
know what a shit she was married to, you were

enamored of impulse, tearing flower heads from sidewalk squares
that had converted from cement

to soil. How pure your longing
to be anything other than yourself. How difficult

to extricate the stem, to hold only the scattering,
brooding petals

& how you longed for that stem. Little former whore,
self-you-have-almost-outgrown, think

of Clytia, pining for Apollo, her whole face turned
toward an idea of heaven. Think

of the faces turned toward you now, as you recite
from the myth you have made,

all of them listening
to you. Of all flowers: you.

Muse by Kim Addonizio

When I walk in,
men buy me drinks before I even reach the bar.

They fall in love with me after one night,
even if we never touch.

I tell you I’ve got this shit down to a science.

They sweat with my memory,
alone in cheap rooms they listen

to moans through the wall
and wonder if that’s me,

letting out a scream as the train whines by.

But I’m already two states away, lying with a boy
I let drink rain from the pulse at my throat.

No one leaves me, I’m the one that chooses.
I show up like money on the sidewalk.

Listen, baby. Those are my high heels dangling from the
phone wire.

I’m the crow flapping down,
that’s my back slip

you catch sight of when the pain
twists into you so deep

you have to close your eyes and weep like a goddamned
woman.

Affair by Kim Addonizio

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?

a girl you should date by nonamerah

Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.
Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.
Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.

To Have Without Holding by Marge Piercy

Learning to love differently is hard,
love with the hands wide open, love
with the doors banging on their hinges,
the cupboard unlocked, the wind
roaring and whimpering in the rooms
rustling the sheets and snapping the blinds
that thwack like rubber bands
in an open palm.

It hurts to love wide open
stretching the muscles that feel
as if they are made of wet plaster,
then of blunt knives, then
of sharp knives.

It hurts to thwart the reflexes
of grab, of clutch; to love and let
go again and again. It pesters to remember
the lover who is not in the bed,
to hold back what is owed to the work
that gutters like a candle in a cave
without air, to love consciously,
conscientiously, concretely, constructively.

I can’t do it, you say it’s killing
me, but you thrive, you glow
on the street like a neon raspberry,
You float and sail, a helium balloon
bright bachelor’s button blue and bobbing
on the cold and hot winds of our breath,
as we make and unmake in passionate
diastole and systole the rhythm
of our unbound bonding, to have
and not to hold, to love
with minimized malice, hunger
and anger moment by moment balanced.

Body, Remember by Constantine Cavafy

Body, remember not only how much you were loved,
not only the beds on which you lay,
but also those desires for you
that glowed plainly in the eyes,
and trembled in the voice—and some
chance obstacle made futile.
Now that all of them belong to the past,
it almost seems as if you had yielded
to those desires—how they glowed,
remember, in the eyes gazing at you;
how they trembled in the voice, for you, remember, body.

Words, Wide Night by Carol Ann Duffy

Somewhere on the other side of this wide night and the distance between us, I am thinking of you.
The room is turning slowly away from the moon.

This is pleasurable. Or shall I cross that out and say it is sad?
In one of the tenses I am singing an impossible song of desire that you cannot hear.

La la la la. See? I close my eyes and imagine the dark hills I would have to cross to reach you,

For I am in love with you and this is what it is like or what it is like in words.