September 28, 2011

you stuttered like a kaleidoscope
'cause you knew too many words

Jane Smaldone, St. Lucy's Mountain Dream, 2006

- Three poems from Kim Addonizio's 1997 novel in verse Jimmy & Rita


For a while Rita works
at a massage parlor on Eddy Street
All she has to do is jerk them off, no
fucking or kissing.
She washes her hands seven,
eight times a day. Dreams
of scrubbing off skin,
red strips of it falling
into a sinkfull of suds.
She buries what's left
of her hands in the white
froth, piled like new snow
she would scoop out
as a child to make
a man.

Moving In

Jimmy brings over a few boxes
Albums, clothes, KO magazines,
six-once boxing gloves, his high school diploma.
Framed newspaper photo of the Chacon-Limon fight.
Seven Marine Band harmonicas,
red coleus he found in a dumpster.
Rita makes room in the closet
watches him hang shirts
next to her dresses.
That afternoon they make love
on the living room rug,
finishing a bottle
of Jim Beam.
Jimmy wakes up at dusk,
stares at the couch legs, confused
for a few seconds.
Lights a Camel, watches
rings rising to the ceiling.
He hates this time of day,
feels death coming on like a punch
he won't duck in time.
Each circle of smoke
solid at first
then pulling itself apart.

Rita's Dream

We're in a bar together
It's dark but there's a mirrored ball
in the middle of the ceiling.
Somebody moved the pool table,
it's like a dance floor. Jimmy's
wearing a suit jacket,
the one from our wedding.
Some women from the shelter
are looking for their babies.
One's in the dumpster and everyone goes
outside to look. Then I'm in
the bathroom, a man's in there and tries
to hand me a rat, it's big and dark,
slippery, I won't take it, I run out
to find Jimmy again. We dance
and I smell his cologne and feel safe.
Some kind of fight is happening,
someone says fuck you loud
and then Get away, get away.
But we just keep dancing.
My dad takes our picture and the flash
makes me close my eyes,
and when I open them
Jimmy is looking at me and I know
he loves me, I know
he isn't ever going to stop.


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