Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Work of A Poem and A Muse is Never Done

Kim Addonizio is a favorite poet of mine. Sadly though I am behind the curve when it comes to her newest publications. I've been looking at Goddard University for graduate school where she is currently visiting faculty. Her collection What Is This Thing Called Love? is so far my only copy. Sorry Kim, I'm going to buy the others, I promise. I also have her joint effort with Dorianne Laux, The Poet's Companion which is summed up in the title. But if the one collection I have is any indication of what she's capable of then I will definitely continue to be a fan.

"Muse", a poem from the collection has served as a namesake and inspiration for one of my own poems. Though they bear no resemblance, I think, I know and now you the reader, know that her poem was the starting point for my own. My "Muse" however is currently in the shop right now. I just decided to do it in parts and so far all I'm sure about, at this juncture, is part one which I've included below.

I recently heard a spoken word poet say that there is no such thing as a finished poem. Most writers know this tid bit of information. On average a writer may spend hours formally and informally working with a piece: pulling, tweaking, mending, destroying, and building up again. Striking an aha! moment is far less likely than actually being able to read over your work without wincing, or my favorite -- feeling like God after creating, a moment in which you can look on your creation and say with assurance, It is good.

In this particular case however I am not speaking about a poem not being finished or good in the eye of its poet, but rather a poem not being finished in the sense that it is constantly giving birth to new poems and concepts. Addonizio's "Muse" sparked the match for my own poem. Similarly, great poetry that has lasted through the ages continues to impact new writers and their poetry. Each new bit of writing produced is a light to another one like a spliff that we want to blow on a few more times before the guy on the left notices you're hogging.

There are no new subjects under the sun, how many times have you heard that? A writer of any sort mulling over how she is going to create new subject matter is certainly wasting her time. The truth is the entire world, your life is a cliche. Still love and heartbreak, the longest standing cliches known to mankind are also the most riveting. We write about it, we watch it, we discuss it. We find ways to stand it. We take the hand-me down recipe, throw some Scotch Bonnet on it, douse it in some browning and we make it our own. It's the same with poetry we love, poetry we hate, poetry that's alright. We find a way to stand our admiration, our hatred, our blase.

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 daggling from the phone wire.

I'm the crow flapping down,
that's my black 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.

Like what you read, then definitely check out Kim Addonizio at

MUSE by Andreen Anglin


When I saunter out, boys’ eyes buoy on my backside.

They all

balloon my nakedness in their minds,
suck the sides of their mouths,
rub their hands against their jeans.

They all want

to camouflage my body in the stud mass of their own,
to slide their palms over my skin, feel how it runs like water all around,
to say my name, their lips eager to form the shapes --
syllables thwarted on a wave of tongue, sounds hollowed shut in their gums.

They never lose my scent, the way the air
taste of ripe mango after I’ve left. I don’t
need to see them to know they do it. I can
read the room’s Braille in the cushion of my fingertips as I wave good night.

I have included the original of this piece i.e. what it looked like in its raw state. I'm pretty partial to it. I like it this way; it's experimental and carries the heaviest voice I've ever written in. However, in an effort to tone down the vulgarity, it has come to look like the above version which I am still trying with. Because the original is so explict, showing it often makes me insecure. I believe people will judge me or my other works based on this one.

I don't want other writers or readers to think that the vulgarity is meant only for shock value, it's a voice, a very unique and particular voice, perhaps one that people aren't used to hearing or want to hear. I would also like to say that I hate defending my work, it is not something I make a habit of, however, in the case of this poem I have made an exception. I'm still figuring it all out. If you have any helpful tips or advice please email me, I welcome any advice or criticism you may have.


when i saunter out eyes buoy on my b a c k s i d e they all

suck sides of their mouths and rub their hands against

t h i g h s they call me into bed and ask me to star in their

wet d r e a m s camouflaging my body in the stud mass

of their o w n i don’t need to see them to know they do i t

i can read the rooms braille in the cushion of my fingertips

as I wave g o o d n i g h t they blow me up in their m i n d s

& carry me on out onto their d i c k s riding them backwards

so they can watch my hair s w i n g contortions of my back

like still w a v e s but mostly my ass fruit as it slides and w i n e s

pumping the juice out through the other s i d e they never lose

my s c e n t they way the air taste ive left the whistle of my hips

that call soldiers and big-headed dogs to a t t e n t i o n you don’t

stand a chance in this w a r ive got explosives that can nuke your

saints & your g o d s break up & smash t i m e ive got gypsy tanks

that can roll over your thoughts before they come to m i n d listen

b o y s im americas most w a n t e d the jailed jezebel scraping

through to your r e a l i t y staking you out on the corners down the

block from your h o m e s my knee high boots hold two atomic

bombs e a s y my serpentine flesh is not the eve of nativity or n a ï v e t é

im the lillith kneeling in between swallowing whole generations

purring your name a f t e r beware of me in your h e a d reading

your journals ransacking a l b u m s im a judas at your dinner t a b l e

im a puppeteer throwing arms up in surrender

This material is copyrighted. Small quotes or citations are permissible with the permission of the author. Any attempt to reproduce the above material will indefinitely result in lawsuit.

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