You Don’t Know What Love Is by Kim Addonizio

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.

The Storm by Sara Teasdale

I thought of you when I was wakened
By a wind that made me glad and afraid
Of the rushing, pouring sound of the sea
That the great trees made.

One thought in my mind went over and over
While the darkness shook and the leaves were thinned —
I thought it was you who had come to find me,
You were the wind.

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.

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?

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.

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.

You Bring Out the Mexican in Me by Sandra Cisneros

You bring out the Mexican in me.
The hunkered thick dark spiral.
The core of a heart howl.
The bitter bile.
The tequila lágrimas on Saturday all
through next weekend Sunday.
You are the one I’d let go the other loves for,
surrender my one-woman house.
Allow you red wine in bed,
even with my vintage lace linens.
Maybe. Maybe.
For you.

You bring out the Dolores del Río in me.
The Mexican spitfire in me.
The raw navajas, glint and passion in me.
The raise Cain and dance with the rooster-footed devil in me.
The spangled sequin in me.
The eagle and serpent in me.
The mariachi trumpets of the blood in me.
The Aztec love of war in me.
The fierce obsidian of the tongue in me.
The berrinchuda, bien-cabrona in me.
The Pandora’s curiosity in me.
The pre-Columbian death and destruction in me.
The rainforest disaster, nuclear threat in me.
The fear of fascists in me.
Yes, you do. Yes, you do.

You bring out the colonizer in me.
The holocaust of desire in me.
The Mexico City ’85 earthquake in me.
The Popocatepetl/Ixtacchiuatl in me.
The tidal wave of recession in me.
The Agustín Lara hopeless romantic in me.
The barbacoa taquitos on Sunday in me.
The cover the mirrors with cloth in me.
Sweet twin. My wicked other,
I am the memory that circles your bed nights,
that tugs you taut as moon tugs ocean.
I claim you all mine,
arrogant as Manifest Destiny.
I want to rattle and rent you in two.
I want to defile you and raise hell.
I want to pull out the kitchen knives,
dull and sharp, and whisk the air with crosses.

Me sacas lo mexicana en mi,
like it or not, honey.
You bring out the Uled-Nayl in me.
The stand-back-white-bitch-in me.
The switchblade in the boot in me.
The Acapulco cliff diver in me.
The Flecha Roja mountain disaster in me.
The dengue fever in me.
The ¡Alarma! murderess in me.
I could kill in the name of you and think
it worth it. Brandish a fork and terrorize rivals,
female and male, who loiter and look at you,
languid in you light. Oh,
I am evil. I am the filth goddess Tlazoltéotl.
I am the swallower of sins.
The lust goddess without guilt.
The delicious debauchery. You bring out
the primordial exquisiteness in me.
The nasty obsession in me.
The corporal and venial sin in me.
The original transgression in me.

Red ocher. Yellow ocher. Indigo. Cochineal.
Piñon. Copal. Sweetgrass. Myrrh.
All you saints, blessed and terrible,
Virgen de Guadalupe, diosa Coatlicue,
I invoke you.
Quiero ser tuya. Only yours. Only you.
Quiero amarte. Aarte. Amarrarte.
Love the way a Mexican woman loves. Let
me show you. Love the only way I know how.

You Do Not Have To Love Me by Leonard Cohen

You do not have to love me
just because
you are all the women
I have ever wanted
I was born to follow you
every night
while I am still
the many men who love you

I meet you at a table
I take your fist between my hands
in a solemn taxi
I wake up alone
my hand on your absense
in Hotel Discipline

I wrote all these songs for you
I burned red and black candles
shaped like a man and a woman
I married the smoke
of two pyramids of sandalwood
I prayed for you
I prayed that you would love me
and that you would not love me