July 27, 2015

Kim Dower

I WORE THIS DRESS TODAY FOR YOU, MOM,

breezy floral, dancing with color
soft, silky, flows as I walk
Easter Sunday and you always liked

to get dressed, go for brunch, “maybe
there’s a good movie playing somewhere?”
Wrong religion, we were not church-goers,

but New Yorkers who understood the value
of a parade down 5th Avenue, bonnets
in lavender, powder blues, pinks, hues

of spring, the hope it would bring.
We had no religion but we did have
noodle kugel, grandparents, dads

who could fix fans, reach the china
on the top shelf, carve the turkey.
That time has passed. You were the last

to go, mom, and I still feel bad I never
got dressed up for you like you wanted me to.
I had things, things to do. But today in L.A.— 

hot the way you liked it—those little birds
you loved to see flitting from tree to tree—
just saw one, a twig in its mouth, preparing 

a bed for its baby—might still be an egg,
I wish you were here. I’ve got a closet filled
with dresses I need to show you. 

from Rattle #48, Summer 2015
Tribute to New Yorkers

[download audio]

__________

Kim Dower: “I grew up on the upper west side of Manhattan—89th off Broadway—in ‘The Party Cake Building,’ apartment 6D, when NYC was still a place for middle class families, not just a city for the rich. I was the handball champion of the street, Benny’s hotdog stand and the New Yorker Bookstore on one side, Murray the Sturgeon King around the corner, rode my bike through Riverside Drive when I was ten (no helmets back then), went to the first ‘Be-In’ in Central Park. Though I’ve lived in Los Angeles for decades, my memories of New York sounds, smells, tastes, people, adventures continue to influence my poems. When I was a little girl I thought that only ‘TV families’ lived in houses. I never knew anyone with a yard, a ‘den,’ or a basement.” (website)

Rattle Logo

December 18, 2013

Kim Dower

BOOB JOB

Trying on clothes in the backroom
of Loehmann’s, a stranger invites me
to feel her breasts, a stranger trying on
dresses that don’t fit and I can see
her breasts are larger than they want
to be, and she can see I’m watching,
asks me to help zip her up and I struggle
to pull her in, smooth out her sunburned skin,
tug, ask her to shake herself in, she tells me
she just got them, didn’t know they’d come out
so big, isn’t sure she likes them, not even her
husband cares, he’s not a breast man, she says,
he’s an ass man but I’m not getting an ass job,
good, I say, because how do you even get an ass job,
do you want to feel them, she asks, and I do, so I do
and they feel like bean bags you’d toss at a clown’s face
at a kid’s party, I squeeze them both at the same time,
cup my hands underneath them, she says, go ahead,
squeeze some more, it’s not sexual, aren’t they heavy,
I don’t want to have them around every day, her nipples
headlights staring into the dressing room mirror, red scars
around the circumferences, angry circles I want to run
my finger around, you should have seen them before
I had them lifted, they were long drooping points,
couldn’t stand looking at them anymore, can I see yours,
so I show her, so small hers could eat mine alive,
nipples like walnuts, do you think I should make mine
bigger, and there we are examining one another’s boobs,
touching, talking about them like they aren’t there,
don’t matter, forgetting how it felt when we were twelve
or thirteen, one morning when they first appeared
sore, swollen, exciting, new, when they had the power
to turn us into women we no longer knew.

from Rattle #40, Summer 2013

[download audio]

__________

Kim Dower: “The ideas and lines I’ve had for poems while eavesdropping and people watching in the famous Loehmann’s communal dressing room could fill countless notebooks, but ‘Boob Job’ took me by surprise. I awakened in the middle of the night with images from my afternoon spent zipping and unzipping the back of a stranger’s dress and the poem poured out. Nothing beats a twisted shopping experience for inspiration!” (www.airkissingonmars.com)

Rattle Logo

June 16, 2013

Kim Dower

“HOW WAS YOUR WEEKEND,”

the lab technician asks me
as she sticks the needle in my vein,
routine physical, blood rushing
up the tube as if being chased
out of my body. Fine, I tell her
all good, really good, did some things,
saw some people, ate out, got rid of shoes
I haven’t worn in years, craved ice cream,
but had no one to go with, so I went by myself,
embarrassed ordering a mint chip cone
alone in the middle of a Saturday, got over it
when I took a bite, euphoric, no longer caring
that my son was too old to take for ice cream.
Wrote a letter to my dead mother but couldn’t
read it at her grave because we cremated her
so I read it sitting at the kitchen table,
a photo of her propped up in front of me.
“Sounds amazing,” she says, my blood still flowing
up the tube, new one now as I’d filled up the first.
Where will they send my blood, and how
do they test for all the things they test for,
and what if they discover I have one
of a million diseases one could have, something
to confine me to bed for as many days, weekends
as I have left on this earth, or what if they find
nothing? Will I start to take pictures of my food
like a friend of mine does? He takes pictures
of what he’s about to eat so he’ll remember
what he put in his body, so if something goes
wrong he’ll know it was the yellowtail swimming
in lime sauce or the ginger sorbet with one proud
blackberry perched on top. He keeps files of photos
so he’ll never forget what he tasted, what filled him.
I want to taste the blood being drawn from my arm,
wonder if it would taste the same as my mother’s.
“What did you do this weekend,” she asks
forgetting she already asked. I had an ice cream cone,
I tell her, took a picture of it before it started to melt,
licked a drop of blood still warm from a new cut,
read a letter to my mother at her grave.

from Rattle #38, Winter 2012
2012 Rattle Poetry Prize Finalist

[download audio]

Rattle Logo

June 28, 2012

Kim Dower

WHY PEOPLE REALLY HAVE DOGS

People really have dogs so they can talk to themselves
without feeling crazy. Take me, for example, cooking
scrambled eggs, ranting about this dumb fuck
who sent naked pictures of himself to strange women,
a politician from New York, I read about it in the paper,
start telling my nervous cock-a-poo, blind in one eye,
practically deaf (so I have to talk extra loud) all about it
and he’s looking at me, poor thing, like he thinks I’m
the smartest person he’s ever heard and I go on, him
tilting his head, and when he sees me pick up my dish
of eggs he starts panting and wagging his tail, I tell him,
no, they’re not for you, but then I break down and give
him some knowing full well that feeding from the table
is rule number one of what you don’t do with dogs,
but I do it anyway because he wants them so bad,
because it makes me feel good to give him what he wants,
and I expound more to make sure he’s aware of the whole
political scandal, the implications for the democrats,
the hypocrisy, tell him dogs are rarely hypocrites, except
when they pretend to be interested in you when all they want
is your food, take him, for example, right now pretending
to love me so much when all he wants are my eggs, me
talking to him when all I want is to say my opinions with no one
interrupting, feel my voice roll out on a clear Saturday morning,
listen to it echo from the kitchen to the bath, up through the ceiling,
out to the sky, the voice from within, all alone in the morning
as the light outside catches the edge of the silver mixing bowl
where the remaining, uncooked eggs sit stirred, ready to toss
into the pan, cooked, eaten by whomever pretends to want them.

from Rattle #36, Winter 2011
Rattle Poetry Prize Finalist

___________

Kim Dower: “It’s important to note that my poem, ‘Why People Really Have Dogs,’ lists only one of the reasons why people really have dogs. There are many other reasons. To find out what they are, watch your dog while she sleeps and you will know.” (website)

Rattle Logo