Last weekend I finally finished writing someone else’s book after almost three months, four weeks of which involved one of the most intense cramming I’ve done in awhile. There’s a kind of exhaustion that has taken root deep in my bones, a chill that may never go away. How long must I do this, I keep asking myself. I alternate between trying not to scream as I continue to get one massive headache after the other, and trying not to cry as I remember that my heart is broken and might be permanently in repair after this.

There was a scene in Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer, when the beautiful Olivia Williams asks a wretched Ewan McGregor, “Didn’t you want to be a proper writer?” I kept thinking about that as I worked night after night after night, writing three hundred pages that will never belong to me. This isn’t the first time I have done this. While taking a shower, or going out for a quick smoke, I continue a conversation in my head for the sake of argument: If only you could use all this energy to write your own damn book then you wouldn’t be in this predicament, Oh, but you would be, because nobody reads in this country anymore, and you’re not exactly made of money, You are, it’s just that you’ve turned your back away from it, Now wait a minute: do you know how ridiculous you sound just now? Somewhere, a certain play we love says: Go fuck yourself! You writer! You liar!, I think your family has said as much, seeing as they look down on writers, Face it, you are alone, so you have to work first and write later, Just look at all the things you could’ve done for yourself by now, instead of doing it for other people, frauds, all of them— But I am doing this for me. I am stronger than I think. Soon it will all make sense. But by god I am doing this for me.

The Numbers
Kim Addonizio

How many nights have I lain here like this, feverish with plans,
with fears, with the last sentence someone spoke, still trying to finish
a conversation already over? How many nights were wasted
in not sleeping, how many in sleep—I don’t know
how many hungers there are, how much radiance or salt, how many times
the world breaks apart, disintegrates to nothing and starts up again
in the course of an ordinary hour. I don’t know how God can bear
seeing everything at once: the falling bodies, the monuments and burnings,
the lovers pacing the floors of how many locked hearts. I want to close
my eyes and find a quiet field in fog, a few sheep moving toward a fence.
I want to count them, I want them to end. I don’t want to wonder
how many people are sitting in restaurants about to close down,
which of them will wander the sidewalks all night
while the pies revolve in the refrigerated dark. How many days
are left of my life, how much does it matter if I manage to say
one true thing about it—how often have I tried, how often
failed and fallen into depression? The field is wet, each grassblade
gleaming with its own particularity, even here, so that I can’t help
asking again, the white sky filling with footprints, bricks,
with mutterings over rosaries, with hands that pass over flames
before covering the eyes. I’m tired, I want to rest now.
I want to kiss the body of my lover, the one mouth, the simple name
without a shadow. Let me go. How many prayers
are there tonight, how many of us must stay awake and listen?

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You on my mind again, should I even be surprised. Gianni Pavesi’s Rilassamento is on repeat. I could almost feel you running your fingers through my hair, again and again.

For You
Kim Addonizio

For you I undress down to the sheaths of my nerves.
I remove my jewelry and set it on the nightstand,
I unhook my ribs, spread my lungs flat on a chair.
I dissolve like a remedy in water, in wine.
I spill without staining, and leave without stirring the air.
I do it for love. For love, I disappear.

36.5°C (97.7ºF) today, the hottest day for 2011 so far, says the news. Haven’t been to the doctor yet (I hate hospitals) but current speculations to my headaches: the weather (inside my house, it’s an additional three degrees of heat), my glasses needing new prescription, not enough sleep and rest, too much stress, and pituitary adenoma. I will not get worked up on this. Let this be the tiny space where these worries go to die and fade into the ether. I bought Tylenol; that should be enough to last me through the week. Dear universe, I’m ready for the fucking rain.

Here’s a poem from S. who wonders about our lives and the summer of our discontent:

My Heart
Kim Addonizio

That Mississippi chicken shack.
That initial-scarred tabletop,
that tiny little dance floor to the left of the band.
That kiosk at the mall selling caramels and kitsch.
That tollbooth with its white-plastic-gloved worker
handing you your change.
That phone booth with the receiver ripped out.
That dressing room in the fetish boutique,
those curtains and mirrors.
That funhouse, that horror, that soundtrack of screams.
That putti-filled heaven raining gilt from the ceiling.
That haven for truckers, that bottomless cup.
That biome. That wilderness preserve.
That landing strip with no runway lights
where you are aiming your plane,
imagining a voice in the tower,
imagining a tower.

The truth? Today: a good book to curl up to. But sometimes a red dress, too. But for all time: you, yes, you.

What Do Women Want?
Kim Addonizio

I want a red dress.
I want it flimsy and cheap,
I want it too tight, I want to wear it
until someone tears it off me.
I want it sleeveless and backless,
this dress, so no one has to guess
what’s underneath. I want to walk down
the street past Thrifty’s and the hardware store
with all those keys glittering in the window,
past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old
donuts in their café, past the Guerra brothers
slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly,
hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders.
I want to walk like I’m the only
woman on earth and I can have my pick.
I want that red dress bad.
I want it to confirm
your worst fears about me,
to show you how little I care about you
or anything except what
I want. When I find it, I’ll pull that garment
from its hanger like I’m choosing a body
to carry me into this world, through
the birth-cries and the love-cries too,
and I’ll wear it like bones, like skin,
it’ll be the goddamned
dress they bury me in.