Kim Addonizio

Cigar Box Banjo
March 9, 2014 Addonizio Kim

Cigar Box Banjo


Blind Willie Johnson could coax

music from a single string.  God plucked a rib

and found a woman.  Concert aria

in the gypsy song, long groan

of orgasm in the first kiss, plastic bag

of heroin ripening in the poppy fields.

Right now, in a deep pocket of a politician’s brain,

a bad idea is traveling along an axon

to make sure the future resembles a cobra

rather than an ocarina.

Still there’s hope in every cartoon bib

above which a tiny unfinished skull in

its beneficence dispenses a drooling grin.

The heart may be a trashy organ,

but when it plucks its shiny banjo

I see blue wings in the rain.

Kim Addonizio’s most recent books are Mortal Trash (W. W. Norton) and a memoir-in-essays, Bukowski in a Sundress (Penguin).  She is the author of ten other books of poetry and prose, including Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within and (with Dorianne Laux) The Poet’s Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry. Among her honors are fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, two Pushcart Prizes, and a Commonwealth Club Poetry Medal. Addonizio teaches poetry workshops privately in Oakland, CA, and online. A new collection, Rag & Echo, is forthcoming. Visit her at