“For Desire” is one of the amorous poems of Kim Addonizio that knocks at our hearts and asks whether we would open the gate to embrace physicality to the next level! Yes, it is the power of the words etched upon the page. Addonizio wrote several poems on this theme. This poem, especially, has the power to enthrall us to our bodily senses. Lovers who can close their eyes and imagine their partner’s smell can connect with this poem more easily. Those who have not been to the roller-coaster of physicality are nudged by the powerful words of Addonizio’s poem.
- Read the full text of “For Desire” below:
For Desire by Kim Addonizio Give me the strongest cheese, the one that stinks best; and I want the good wine, the swirl in crystal surrendering the bruised scent of blackberries, or cherries, the rich spurt in the back of the throat, the holding it there before swallowing. Give me the lover who yanks open the door of his house and presses me to the wall in the dim hallway, and keeps me there until I’m drenched and shaking, whose kisses arrive by the boatload and begin their delicious diaspora through the cities and small towns of my body. To hell with the saints, with martyrs of my childhood meant to instruct me in the power of endurance and faith, to hell with the next world and its pallid angels swooning and sighing like Victorian girls. I want this world. I want to walk into the ocean and feel it trying to drag me along like I’m nothing but a broken bit of scratched glass, and I want to resist it. I want to go staggering and flailing my way through the bars and back rooms, through the gleaming hotels and weedy lots of abandoned sunflowers and the parks where dogs are let off their leashes in spite of the signs, where they sniff each other and roll together in the grass, I want to lie down somewhere and suffer for love until it nearly kills me, and then I want to get up again and put on that little black dress and wait for you, yes you, to come over here and get down on your knees and tell me just how fu-king good I look. - from Tell Me (2000)
“For Desire” begins with gustatory imagery of the stinky cheese and rich wine. To create a romantic mood, she refers to their taste along with the addled smell of blackberries and cherries. The poetic persona of this piece tells readers how it feels to hold the juice in the back of her throat. This feeling is added to the feeling of how her lover passionately pulls her close, makes love. She thinks as if she is like a scratched glass in the ocean of her partner’s love, gradually taking her away from her senses.
The speaker is in such a heightened state that she badly wants to have some romantic hours with her lover, anywhere. They can make love in bars, or back rooms, hotels, or in the weedy parks. Like playful dogs, they want to create a moment of extreme pleasure. After they make love, she wants to put on her favorite black dress. Looking at it, her lovers would say how gorgeous she looks in it.
Structure & Form
Addonizio wrote this poem in free verse. There is no specific rhyme scheme or meter in this piece. In the case of the length of the lines, it is also irregular. There are a total of 33 lines in the poem. Addonizio packs the lines together and creates an easy-going pace that does not halt in the middle. To sustain the poetic flow, she internally connects the lines by using a poetic device. The poem does not sound monotonous at all for the presence of internal rhymings. Regarding the point of view, it is written from the perspective of a first-person speaker who is none other than the poet herself.
Poetic Devices & Figurative Language
Kim Addonizio’s “For Desire” contains the following literary devices. The most important ones are mentioned below.
- Enjambment: This device is used throughout the poem. By using this figure, Addonizio connects the lines internally. For example, it occurs in these lines: “Surrendering the bruised scent of blackberries,/ Or cherries, the rich spurt in the back/ Of the throat, …”
- Alliteration: The repetition of similar sounds or alliteration can be found in the following phrases from the poem: “delicious diaspora,” “Swooning and sighing,” “Staggering and flailing,” etc.
- Imagery: The poem begins with the use of gustatory imagery or images related to taste. Moving on to the next lines where the smell of berries is mentioned, contain olfactory imagery. Besides, the poet also uses visual imagery, kinetic, and organic imagery as well.
- Metaphor: In the line “Through the cities and small towns of my body”, the speaker compares her specific body parts to cities and towns. She compares her lover metaphorically to the ocean and herself to a “broken bit of scratched glass”.
- Simile: Readers can find this device in the following lines: “Swooning and sighing like Victorian girls” and “Like I’m nothing but a broken bit of scratched glass”.
- Hyperbole: “Lie down somewhere and suffer for love until/ It nearly kills me, …” The lines contain an exaggeration meant for the sake of emphasis.
Line-by-Line Analysis & Explanation
Give me the strongest cheese, the one that stinks best;
and I want the good wine, the swirl in crystal
surrendering the bruised scent of blackberries,
or cherries, the rich spurt in the back
of the throat, the holding it there before swallowing.
Kim Addonizio’s poem “For Desire” begins with a reference to the strongest cheese. The speaker needs some cheese that stinks the best. The reference to its taste creates an addled mood at the very beginning. It tells us of the taste as well as the smell that can incite carnal emotions in our hearts. To intensify this effect, she refers to the taste of wine and how it swirls in a crystal glass while pouring it from a bottle. Both of these elements are added to arouse the body to that state that helps one to understand the feelings of the speaker.
In the following lines, Addonizio’s speaker talks about the taste of blackberries and cherries. Their smell while one bruises the berries’ juicy skin is similar to the feeling while one bites her partner while lovemaking. Furthermore, she says that she likes to hold the juice in the back of her throat to feel its taste much longer. It can be compared to a kind of intense pleasure that feels better when it is delayed. Such delay intensifies the passion and when it happens heightens the pleasure.
Give me the lover who yanks open the door
of his house and presses me to the wall
in the dim hallway, and keeps me there until I’m drenched
and shaking, whose kisses arrive by the boatload
and begin their delicious diaspora
through the cities and small towns of my body.
She asks for a lover who is passionate about his every move. He would open the door in passion and pull her closer. Then pressing her tightly against the wall in the dim light of the hallway, they would make love. The use of light acts as a stimulator. All she wants is to be drenched in sweat after making love. She would shake in passion and wait until her lover loads her with kisses.
Addonizio uses a beautiful metaphor here. She compares his kisses to the “delicious diaspora”. It seems as if the way he kisses the speaker feels different at different spots of her body. Furthermore, she compares her body parts to cities and small towns metaphorically. Readers can detect the use of sexual innuendo in these lines.
To hell with the saints, with martyrs
of my childhood meant to instruct me
in the power of endurance and faith,
to hell with the next world and its pallid angels
swooning and sighing like Victorian girls.
I want this world. I want to walk into
the ocean and feel it trying to drag me along
like I’m nothing but a broken bit of scratched glass,
In these lines, the speaker uses some biblical symbols to portray how it feels when she taps on the state of extreme pleasure and satisfaction. It feels as if she is with the saints, the martyrs in the stories she heard in her childhood. They taught her the power of endurance and faith that kept them motivated even in hell. When she thinks of making love with her partner she seeks such power to sustain her throughout the sexual ride.
The imagery of “pallid angels” who swoon and sigh like Victorian girls have another purpose in this poem. Addonizio refers to this religious symbol for highlighting the importance of the world we live in. One can experience something that cannot even the angels can enjoy. It is beyond expression when two bodies come closer for the sake of spending some hours of togetherness, nothing else. Is it not a spiritual thing? Albeit, it is as at that moment lovers do not think about anything. The only thoughts that linger around are the thoughts of nothingness, serenity, and bliss.
She compares her lover to the currents of an ocean that have the ability to pull something towards its unknown depths. Her lover is like an ocean. When he pulls her towards him she feels the same. Then she finds herself as a broken piece of glass, scratched by the ocean currents.
and I want to resist it. I want to go
staggering and flailing my way
through the bars and back rooms,
through the gleaming hotels and weedy
lots of abandoned sunflowers and the parks
where dogs are let off their leashes
In these lines, the speaker is so aroused that she cannot even resist herself. She somehow wants to resist herself. But, in vain, when the currents of physicality attract, none can avoid the force. That’s why she wants to be intoxicated in love.
She badly wants to make love wherever the mood can be created. They can make love in the bars or the back rooms of some hotels. The usage of the word “gleam” is similar to the usage of the word “dim” in the first section. They can also make love in the field where the weedy sunflowers gather around her.
In the next line, Addonizio uses the image of dogs that are unleashed in a park. The speaker wants to be like that dog and wants to embrace physicality to the lees.
in spite of the signs, where they sniff each
other and roll together in the grass, I want to
lie down somewhere and suffer for love until
it nearly kills me, and then I want to get up again
and put on that little black dress and wait
for you, yes you, to come over here
and get down on your knees and tell me
just how fu-king good I look.
This section is connected with the idea of the previous line. Addonizio has told readers about the unleashed dogs. In this section, she talks about how dogs sniff each other and roll together in the grass. No matter what their master instructs them, the dogs do what they are meant to do. The speaker wants to be like that unleashed dog and lie down somewhere in the grass.
All she wants to suffer for love until it nearly takes away her breath. She uses the phrase “nearly kills me” as hyperbole. It reveals how passionate the speaker is to make love with her partner.
After making love, she would get up again and put on her short black dress. She would wait for her lover to come near her and get down on his knees. Then he would tell her how gorgeous she looked in that dress. The use of the colloquial term gives this piece a simplicity and unrefined taste. Addonizio wants to reflect her true emotions. That’s why she resorts to colloquialism.
Questions & Answers
The title of this piece “For Desire” means what she feels whenever she is aroused by her bodily urges or desires.
The main theme of this poem is desire and physicality. It also taps on the theme of eroticism and the body.
Kim Addonizio’s “For Desire” is a free-verse lyric that is written from the point of view of a first-person speaker.
The speaker of this piece is the poet Kim Addonizio. She speaks through her poetic persona.
Kim Addonizio is an American poet and novelist who was born on July 31, 1954. Her best-loved poems include “What Do Women Want?“, “The First Line Is the Deepest,” “What Is This Thing Called Love,” etc.
Explore More Kim Addonizio Poems
- About Kim Addonizio — Read the biography of Kim Addonizio and explore her other poems.
- Kim Addonizio’s Poet Profile & Poems — Read more about the poet and her poems.
- Official Website of Kim Addonizio — Explore Addonizio’s published works, poetry workshops, music, etc., on her official website.
- An Interview with Kim Addonizio — Read Kim Addonizio’s interview on creativity and the creative process.