Poem of the Week, by Kim Addonizio

I’d love to see you in the Zoom room, January 7-13, in our first-ever, informal, kick off the new year with joy and freedom Write Together session! Seven days of morning and evening prompts, join in for any or all. Each session recorded in case you miss one. Click here for all the details

Sometimes don’t you just get so tired of being good?

Of being polite?

Of being patient and kind and clean?

Sometimes don’t you just want to be dirty?

Sometimes do you look back on those few secret memories you don’t talk about with anyone, memories of being bad, of how hard you laughed, how alive you felt, and think, yep, that’s in you too and don’t ever forget it.

Good Girl, by Kim Addonizio

 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 night — the 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 slutty 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.

Click here for more info about the brilliant Kim Addonizio.

My podcast: Words by Winter

Poem of the Week, by Kim Addonizio

My new poems podcast, Words by Wintercan be found here.

Look at my mother holding my baby sister in this old photo, how impossibly young and unafraid she looks. I used to carry my babies everywhere like that too, the way every parent does. Cradled in my arms, or with their legs straddling my hip. Hoisted onto my shoulders. Swung across my stomach like a football. Piggyback. Twice I flipped one daughter over onto her belly, half-vertical along my extended arm, to force out a piece of food she was choking on with the heel of my hand.

It’s the most natural thing in the world to carry your baby with just your arms. And at the same time, holy crud, it’s almost unfathomable. How all of us balance on two legs on this floating planet suspended in space, hoisting babies around like footballs. As if they didn’t depend on us for every single second of life, and us on them.

Gravity, by Kim Addonizio

Carrying my daughter to bed
I remember how light she once was,
no more than a husk in my arms.
There was a time I could not put her down,
so frantic was her crying if I tried
to pry her from me, so I held her
for hours at night, walking up and down the hall,
willing her to fall asleep. She’d grow quiet,
pressed against me, her small being alert
to each sound, the tension in my arms, she’d take
my nipple and gaze up at me,
blinking back fatigue she’d fight whatever terror
waited beyond my body in her dark crib. Now
that she’s so heavy I stagger beneath her,
she slips easily from me, down
into her own dreaming. I stand over her bed,
fixed there like a second, dimmer star,
though the stars are not fixed: someone
once carried the weight of my life.

For more information about Kim Addonizio, please click here.

Words by Winter: my new podcast

Poem of the Week, by Kim Addonizio

IMG_1960A few years ago a lifelong minor heart glitch spiraled out of control. I didn’t tell anyone until a couple hours before the surgery to fix it, so as not to worry them, and I took a Lyft to the hospital. But just before the procedure, as the surgical team was pushing the gurney into the OR, I put my hand on the arm of the nearest blue-masked nurse. Please take good care of me, I said. I don’t want to die. 

Everyone’s eyes filled with surprise and concern and they all bent over me. Of course we will. We’ll take good, good care of you. And then I was under the lights and then I was floating away and then I was waking up to the surgeon, standing at the end of the bed with his arms crossed, grinning. Do you remember telling us to stop setting your heart on fire? he asked.

 I didn’t. But that whole day came washing back over me when I read this poem below. The kindness of the nurses and doctors. The wondrousness of a world in which a heart can be precisely burned in multiple places and emerge stronger. The openheartedness of an unknown person who, long before their own death, chose to save another’s life with their own body. The knowledge that we get just one heart, and whether we’re conscious of it or not, it’s always on fire.


February 14, by Kim Addonizio

This is a valentine for the surgeons
ligating the portal veins and hepatic artery,
placing vascular clamps on the vena cava
as my brother receives a new liver.

And a valentine for each nurse;
though I don’t know how many there are
leaning over him in their gauze masks,
I’m sure I have enough—as many hearts

as it takes, as much embarrassing sentiment
as anyone needs. One heart
for the sutures, one for the instruments
I don’t know the names of,

and the monitors and lights,
and the gloves slippery with his blood
as the long hours pass,
as a T-tube is placed to drain the bile.

And one heart for the donor,
who never met my brother
but who understood the body as gift
and did not want to bury or burn that gift.

For that man, I can’t imagine how
one heart could suffice. But I offer it.
While my brother lies sedated,
opened from sternum to groin,

I think of a dead man, being remembered
by others in their sorrow, and I offer him
these words of praise and gratitude,
oh beloved whom we did not know.




​For more information on Kim Addonizio, please check out her website.​




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Poem of the Week, by Kim Addonizio

IMG_4266Once I had a friend who shared my love of strong flavors. We would buy things like kimchee and Limburger cheese and pesto that was mostly garlic and sit at the small kitchen table in the 4th-floor walkup I shared with my sister eating it. You two and your stinky food!, my sister would say, and she was right. Intensity is a good thing when it comes to food. And gin, the kind where you can taste all the plants and flowers and life that’s been infused into it: bay and juniper and sage, dry sunshine air. “Whatever’s your most botanical,” is what I say to the bartender when they ask. I don’t care if there’s a heaven and I don’t believe anyone who tells me there are rules for getting into it, because why does it matter? This is the world we live in. This is our hell and our heaven, this world right here, the one with the Limburger and the pesto and the St. George terroir. Which is why I love this poem, by the great Kim Addonizio, a woman who has never been afraid of strong flavors.


For Desire, by Kim Addonizio

Give me the strongest cheese, the one that stinks best;
and I want the good wine, the swirl in crystal
surrendering the bruised scent of blackberries,
or cherries, the rich spurt in the back
of the throat, the holding it there before swallowing.
Give me the lover who yanks open the door
of his house and presses me to the wall
in the dim hallway, and keeps me there until I’m drenched
and shaking, whose kisses arrive by the boatload
and begin their delicious diaspora
through the cities and small towns of my body.
To hell with the saints, with martyrs
of my childhood meant to instruct me
in the power of endurance and faith,
to hell with the next world and its pallid angels
swooning and sighing like Victorian girls.
I want this world.


For more information on Kim Addonizio, please visit her website.


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Poem of the Week, by Kim Addonizio

IMG_3122I never paid much attention to tattoos until my children and their friends, and then my own friends, started getting them. For me, it’s been a natural progression from disinterest + a tinge of sadness (that beautiful skin, forever altered) to mild interest + resignation (that beautiful skin, forever altered) to deep interest (what’s the story behind that tattoo? + admiration (it’s an art form, with the body as medium) = these days, tattoos are among the first things I notice when out wandering the streets and beach. This poem, by one of my favorite poets, makes me think about them in a different way, in an everything-we-can’t-see-but-know-is-there kind of way. All the unknown stories walking around out there.


First Poem for You
     – Kim Addonizio

I like to touch your tattoos in complete
darkness, when I can’t see them. I’m sure of
where they are, know by heart the neat
lines of lightning pulsing just above
your nipple, can find, as if by instinct, the blue
swirls of water on your shoulder where a serpent
twists, facing a dragon. When I pull you

to me, taking you until we’re spent
and quiet on the sheets, I love to kiss
the pictures in your skin. They’ll last until
you’re seared to ashes; whatever persists
or turns to pain between us, they will still
be there. Such permanence is terrifying.
So I touch them in the dark; but touch them, trying.


For more information on Kim Addonizio, please click here.