May 25, 2020

Sharry Wright


We live inside a house of many windows
where strangers walking by can see
our life of scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes,
of crossword puzzles and the empty nest
that is my hair. They watch us eating artichokes,
scraping bits of flesh from the base of the leaf
with our bottom teeth, the empty bowl
filling up with what remains. The trick,
my father told me before dying, is to keep on
breathing, and he did until the tumor
in his lung squeezed his heart wide open.
I think of all the lost hours of my life,
pockets full of maps I’ve drawn
on napkins; all the places that I meant to go,
forgotten in the closet. No one wants
to be a ghost, to wander in a world where
no one sees you. I tell myself that walking
barefoot is a kind of prayer, feet to earth,
breathing, lungs to air, even better, in the rain,
water on your skin. At night, we light a candle
so the strangers can still see us in the dark.

from Rattle #67, Spring 2020
Students of Kim Addonizio


Sharry Wright: “I first read a review of Kim Addonizio’s Mortal Trash in the San Francisco Chronicle and immediately walked down to City Lights Bookstore to buy a copy, which I devoured and then went online to see what else I could find out about her. When I realized that she lived in Oakland, just across the Bay, and held workshops in her home, I could hardly believe my good fortune! I applied for the next workshop in the fall of 2016 and felt like I’d found the mentor that I’d been longing for, someone to help me find my voice. Kim’s feedback is so precise and perceptive; she is always able to immediately highlight what is working in a poem and to zoom in on where it has gone off track, yet she leaves plenty of room for the student/poet to keep their work uniquely their own. Plus her brilliant weekly prompts never fail to inspire something interesting.” (web)

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May 22, 2020

Ann Tweedy


When my son was born, his immense need
and my ability to answer it were like the two hemispheres
of the world. Sometimes I was afraid and bewildered
yet comforted in knowing what my purpose was.
When he slept in my bed between bouts of nursing,
I’d throw my arm lightly across his chest
like a cave-dwelling woman making sure that predators
had to contend with me first. I remember
marveling at his acceptance of my arm
on his sleeping form at six months, nine months, a year.
His uncomplicated thought was that it was good that I was there.
If I turned from one side to the other so my back
faced him, he’d wake up crying within seconds.

Five and a half is a different story. Now, he throws
his forty pounds around. Until a few weeks ago,
to sleep in his own bed, he needed me to read to him
then cuddle him. This often led to my falling asleep
for the rest of the night. But now
he needs the whole bed to himself. Could I sit on the floor
next to the bed and read?

I love to put my arm around him and smell the sweet
spring air on the top of his head. But if I’ve eaten garlic or drunk coffee
he says, Mommy, your breath smells horrible!
I’ve gotten him to change it to Your breath doesn’t smell
that good—maybe you should brush your teeth, but really it makes
very little difference.

And sometimes when he has
a Lego vision, like a space station or a control tower,
only his dad will do. Daddy knows more about them,
he says, but really our visions are too dissimilar,
and he’s like Chihuly, wanting minions to execute what’s in his head.

I think of my grandmother crying
when I told her at five that I didn’t like
a doll she’d given me because its lined blue irises
stared vacantly. My dismay then was rooted in
the thought that adults were supposed to be stronger, less fragile
than the sturdy kids who were waiting their turn
to rule the Earth. But here I am.

from Rattle #67, Spring 2020
Students of Kim Addonizio


Ann Tweedy: “I studied with Kim Addonizio at the Ashland Writers’ Conference in Ashland, Oregon, in the summer of 2001. Kim taught me to trust my own voice and to embrace the gritty, unwieldy parts of my life in my writing. She was a generous critic, and I was amazed at the quality of the work that I and other workshop participants produced as a result of the exercises she assigned. In addition to assigning in-class writing, she had us workshop some poems we brought from home. At the beginning of the class, my laptop stopped working, and I panicked at the prospect of not being able to share with her the poems I had brought. Thankfully, I got it back up and running and was able to benefit from her invaluable critiques. I included a couple of the poems we workshopped that summer in my first full-length book. I had discovered Kim’s work at a women’s bookstore in Portland a year or two before that summer workshop and was immediately drawn to the exuberant sadness that characterized much of her early work. I am so glad I had the chance to work with her early in my writing career!” (web)

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May 18, 2020

Amy Miller


At the emergency animal clinic, I’m standing
in the bathroom thinking the crying room
big and softly lit, a plant in a corner, the walls
airbrushed in grays and browns. The only place
in the building you can be alone. I remember
meeting a woman one night in this clinic waiting
for her Collie, injury treated, disaster over,
big bill paid. She told me she’d lost count
of how many times she’d been there over the years.
This is the first one I’ve brought home alive.

It’s the 4th of July weekend and hell’s broken loose
out there, the stories I heard in the lobby—bitten
by another dog, hit by a car, ate a box of candy,
foaming at the mouth from some new med.
My own cat 16 years old and stricken down
so suddenly that all he could do was lie
like a fallen tree and watch me though the vents
in the carrier all during the half-hour drive.

The stay is two days, the bill two pages long,
and now I’m standing here in the bathroom thinking
of people crying, though they say I can bring him
home tomorrow, just one more night of fluids
under the futuristic hoses and wires and dark-faced
monitors, his orange body blanketed in a warm balloon
of air while the vet tech types numbers on a pad,
a distant dog shrieking, a sound I can still hear,
that carries through God knows how many walls.
I wash my hands and push through the door

into the lobby and hold it open because a woman
is running toward me, her face swollen as a bee sting,
wet, her shoulders convulsing, a sound drowning
in her mouth. She rushes past, and I don’t dare
look, but I can see everyone—the lobby full, couples
and singles and families, some waiting with a dog
or a cat, some sitting alone with their phones and Cokes
from the machine, maybe fifteen people, every one
looking at her, and—reader, you have to see this—
every one with a face full of love and complete
recognition. No judgment, irony, glad-it’s-not-me,
a whole room of understanding while she pulls
the door shut and latches it to cry for the baby

that I now see—I remember this man from earlier,
how she sat with him in the waiting room when I did—
and in his arms he carries a small body, terrier-size,
wrapped tight in a blue blanket head to foot,
motionless as he bears it through the front door
into the parking lot. I follow him out,
but I can’t see any more—how gently he lays it
on the back seat, I’m guessing—because I’m
getting in my own car, eyes down, letting him
have his peace alone. To intrude, to help—
it just isn’t done, or I don’t know how, and neither

did anyone back there, though we all know exactly
how high that love goes, most of us with no kids
or ones that are grown, most of us lying in bed at night
with a dog or cat snoring softly in the half-light,
the not quite deep-death night but the still-living kind
that makes us want to stay awake an hour longer,
the air outside alive with tires on the road and those crickets
that only started up a week ago and now sound like
they’ll keep singing that aria forever, even when
we all know sooner or later it will have to end.

from Rattle #67, Spring 2020
Students of Kim Addonizio


Amy Miller: “I was in Kim Addonizio’s private workshop for about a year. This was in 2001, and I took several of her multi-week courses. Kim was a fair-minded but tough critiquer; she had a way of cutting right to what she called the heart of the poem, the thing that gave it life, and pointing out lines that dulled that heart’s impetus or drifted too far away from it. Her toughness, more than anything, had a lasting effect on my writing. I learned to revise brutally, to sift through workshop comments just as dispassionately, and to stick up for a poem when its unique voice or vision was getting lost in the rewrite. Her workshop was a sort of crucible, a hot forge that made me stronger as a writer, a better judge of my work and others’, and I think it’s very hard to keep going as a writer without that kind of toughness. I know I just said ‘tough’ about five times. I loved that about Kim.” (web)

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May 15, 2020

Clint Margrave


As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning
from uneasy dreams, he found himself 
cancelled by a Twitter mob. 
“What happened?” he thought,
before the movers came 
and took away his bed.

After that, they took his desk,
the clothes in his closet,
all the books
on his shelf.
Of course, he was used to people
making up stories about him. 
The last time it happened, 
he’d lost his job,
his parents,
even his beloved sister Grete.
Maybe they’re right? he thought.
Maybe I am a monster.
Gregor’s room was spotless now,
even his filth wiped clean,
just a single nail in the wall 
where that old picture
of the pinup girl used to hang.
He handed the landlord his keys,
then stepped outside.
A tow truck was lifting 
his car onto a flatbed.
A small crowd of protesters 
had amassed on the curb
demanding he apologize.

“I’m sorry,” he said,
though he didn’t know what for,
which only made them angrier.

Tired from his restless sleep,
he decided to walk to a nearby Starbucks 
and buy a coffee, 
only to find his debit card declined. 

“Sorrynotsorry,” said the young barista,
who immediately 
hashtagged this with a photo
of him on Twitter.
Gregor sighed
as the two police officers  
escorted him out. 
He glanced at the sky one last time
before they shoved him 
in the back of a van.
The day was overcast.
The sun cancelled by clouds.

from Rattle #67, Spring 2020
Students of Kim Addonizio


Clint Margrave: “I took Kim’s online course in the fall of 2016. She helped me refine my poems for clarity, word choice, economy. I kept copies of her notes and only recently went back and looked at them for a particular poem I was still struggling with. After countless attempts to resolve its problems, I realized the answer had already been in the advice she gave me three years earlier, and I’d just been ignoring it.” (web)

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May 13, 2020

Marie-Elizabeth Mali


Up on the bridge roof—a pinprick
on a floating speck
of wood and sail—
the scale is comforting,
not frightening.
A fine way
to disappear.

The man says, Hey gorgeous,
and I get wet.

On a dive, I shoot a pair of green
ornate ghost pipefishes
until I run out of air, my last
inhale a shock
like sucking on a corked hose.
I have to breathe
off his tank to survive.

In a grind of sharks I shoot,
one scarred pregnant female.
Shark sex is rough.
It leads to multiple wounds,
few offspring.

We ride in a skiff across the equator,
magenta-gold light
on the green-wrapped
islands we zip around.
I stand to shoot the scene
and almost fall
because of the chop.
The man holds my hips
to steady me. So he’ll keep
his hands there, I shoot
way past the point
of available light.

Before the next dive, he puts a Band-Aid
on a sore on my wrist.
It becomes a game, my sticking out
my arm, palm up,
before each dive.
I know where
they’re kept, could do it
myself, but I like
his care, his light
touch on my wrist.

I shoot a pair of broad-club cuttlefish.
The male puts his body
between me and the female
who continues to lay
eggs in a coral hollow
despite the strobes’ flash.

Four more days on the boat, lying awake
in a cabin three doors down
from his body.
At my station
on the starboard side,
I fiddle with my mask
and watch him gear up
at his port-side station:
Wetsuit, boots, BCD, tank,
do-rag, gloves, mask.
Extra-long fins under his arm
as he walks to the skiff.

One night we sit and chat on the bridge roof
When he gets up to refill my glass,
our feet brush,
sending a jolt of heat through me.
The rest of the chat
I hope our feet
will meet again.

The iron taste of his sun-cracked lips,
his adept tongue
and mind, arms
that lift and turn me
this way
and that, how
he washes my hair
and towels me dry.

from Rattle #67, Spring 2020
Students of Kim Addonizio


Marie-Elizabeth Mali: “I’ve studied with Kim Addonizio many times, in person and online, from 2007 to 2018. She’s helped my writing become more bold and more subtle, by sometimes suggesting that I say the thing more directly and at other times suggesting that I use an image or metaphor instead. And always with a well-tuned ear to the poem’s sounds. I love having a teacher with such range!” (web)

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May 11, 2020

Anja Konig


some people became erratic.
A physical
therapist smashed
a hot dog stand.
Teachers tossed
garbage cans.
A middle-aged woman
defied the police,
not crossing
the street
where instructed.
If she were black
she could have been shot.
I am still flossing,
a possible sign
of optimism?
My yoga instructor
would make
a good president.
She knows all the positions:
thread the needle,
down dog.

from Rattle #67, Spring 2020
Students of Kim Addonizio


Anja Konig: “Kim is one of my absolute favorite poets. I admire her aggressive clarity, her rhythm—she really is Bukowski in a sundress, with better skin. I compulsively read her poem ‘What Women Want’ aloud to my friends. One runs out of the house to buy a new Addonizio book, even in hardcover.”

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May 8, 2020

Tracey Knapp


The neighborhood turkey has two girlfriends. They triple shuffle
across the street and my old dog does not know what to think so
he just howls at them through the rain. I slept with my ex
on New Years’ Eve while his girlfriend was upstairs.
She didn’t mind. They have an arrangement. We both like him
despite his politics. Once, we were the three birds at a funeral
when our hearts were large with loss and love made sense.
It’s a strange time to be single. I sleep alone in a converted garage
and dream about floating down a river with a man who has marbled eyes.
My dog wakes me at two in the morning to go outside. I go outside,
and still, I’m single. I love some of my books, their passionate farewells.
I doubt that kind of love will find me. I love the rain and hate it, too,
which must mean it’s true love. I refuse to see my doctor because
I don’t love my body. I let bad health become a part
of my attitude. I learned to love the mess I made of my thirties.
I love the life that comes back to my dog when he sees
the turkeys meander down the wet road. I need them. I need
people. I need to be alone. I need a nap during a downpour.
Everybody, stop. Close your eyes for a minute. Don’t believe
that no one else cares if you’re okay. You’re totally wrong.
I’m telling you this because I love you.

from Rattle #67, Spring 2020
Students of Kim Addonizio


Tracey Knapp: “The first time I saw Kim Addonizio read was in 2001, but it wasn’t until 2007 that I began working with her. First, I had to go to grad school and study with other teachers who frankly pale in comparison to her influence on my work. Never have I had a teacher who has been so challenging, or so supportive. I’ve been taking almost all of her Oakland workshops for twelve years, and studied with her in Italy last year. I also give Kim a lot of credit for my first book. Most of the poems in that book were written in her workshop. She is a friend, a mentor, and the best teacher I’ve ever had.” (web)

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