Kim Addonizio has authored four poetry collections, most recently What Is This Thing Called Love. Her previous collection, Tell Me, was a National Book Award Finalist. She has received numerous awards including two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her other books include a novel, Little Beauties, from Simon and Schuster.
Poet and translator. Under Chinese pen name Laoha, he translates and writes poems both in English and Chinese. He was born in China in 1960 and now lives in Northern Nevada, USA.
Into every life a little ax must fall.
Every dog has its choke chain.
Every cloud has a shadow.
Better dead than fed.
He who laughs, will not last.
Sticks and stones will break you,
and then the names of things will be changed.
A stitch in time saves no one.
The darkest hour comes.
for Aya at fifteen
Damp-haired from the bath, you drape yourself
upside down across the sofa, reading,
one hand idly sunk into a bowl
of crackers, goldfish with smiles stamped on.
I think they are growing gills, swimming
up the sweet air to reach you. Small girl,
my slim miracle, they multiply.
In the black hours when I lie sleepless,
near drowning, dread-heavy, your face
is the bright lure I look for, love's hook
piercing me, hauling me cleanly up.
"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 cafe, 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.
In this shallow creek
they flop and writhe forward as the dead
float back toward them. Oh, I know
what I should say: fierce burning in the body
as her eggs burst free, milky cloud
of sperm as he quickens them. I should stand
on the bridge with my camera,
frame the white froth of rapids where one
arcs up for an instant in its final grace.
But I have to go down among
the rocks the glacier left
and squat at the edge of the water
where a stinking pile of them lies,
where one crow balances and sinks
its beak into a gelid eye.
I have to study the small holes
gouged into their skin, their useless gills,
their gowns of black flies. I can't
make them sing. I want to,
but all they do is open
their mouths a little wider
so the water pours in
until I feel like I'm drowning.
On the bridge the tour bus waits
and someone waves, and calls down
It's time, and the current keeps lifting
dirt from the bottom to cover the eggs.
Note: Verities was first published in Poetry, Mermaid Song,
"What Do Women Want?" and Salmon were first published in Tell Me.