Originally published in Willow Springs 63
From the author
Notes on “Long-Distance”
I wrote this after a guy I’d known many years ago found me on the Internet. He came back from the Vietnam war and then got a black belt in karate with a prosthetic leg. They really were wood back then. For a long time I had a few lines in the poem about the land mine he had stepped on and the guys who had hauled him out of the rice paddy. I kept trying to make a connection between them carrying him and the speaker “carrying” him in a different sense. Finally I gave up and decided the poem didn’t really need that idea, especially since I couldn’t say it in a way that wasn’t trite. And it focused the poem too much on the speaker. I wanted it to be about this man’s survival. Once I had the thought that the leg had an amputated man, just as the man had an amputated leg, I had a seed for the ending. I’ve never been wholly satisfied with this poem, but it has personal meaning for me. It’s more narrative than a lot of my work these days and I wish it made more surprising moves than it does. I think the ending may be worth it, though, and I really wanted the note the poem sounds to be in my next book, Lucifer at the Starlite, and I had a deadline. So there it is.
Notes on Reading
Everything I’ve read has either excited me as a model, a way of putting language and thought and emotion together–or shown me what I want to avoid. I don’t reread much. A couple of books I have gone back to more than once are Lewis Hyde’s The Gift and Denis Johnson’s first novel, Angels. I’m also reading a lot of Dean Young’s poetry right now. When I read him, I want to write, and odd phrases occur to me– like “God is a mental doll.” Words just start floating around my brain, like goldfish. I’m trying to work with that God line right now. It’s hard to strive to write the last book, so I’m usually striving to write the next one, which I always hope is going to be better. With every book, I want it to find its own voice and sense of self. And I want to be proud of it when it grows up.
About Kim Addonizio
Kim Addonizio is the author of five books of poetry including Tell Me, which was a National Book Award Finalist. She has also published two novels, Little Beauties and My Dreams Out in the Street, and a book of stories, In the Box Called Pleasure. She co-authored The Poet’s Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry. With poet Susan Browne, she collaborated on a word/music CD, Swearing, Smoking, Drinking & Kissing, available from cdbaby.com. Addonizio’s latest book is Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within, from W.W. Norton. Norton will also be releasing Lucifer at the Starlite in October 2009. Addonizio is currently at work on new poems and essays.