Tell Me [NOOK Book]


In this new collection by the author of the award-winning The Philosopher's Club, Kim Addonizio takes the grist of the world and transforms it into poems of transcendent beauty. The dual themes of love and loss are pervasive in Addonizio's poems, made poignant by her keen eye and wise observations.
Read More Show Less
... See more details below
Tell Me

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$8.49 price
(Save 15%)$9.99 List Price


In this new collection by the author of the award-winning The Philosopher's Club, Kim Addonizio takes the grist of the world and transforms it into poems of transcendent beauty. The dual themes of love and loss are pervasive in Addonizio's poems, made poignant by her keen eye and wise observations.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
It is not surprising that each of Laux's and Addonizio's third collections of poems are being published in close proximity by the same house. In 1997 the pair coauthored The Poet's Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry (Norton); both have published two previous collections with BOA; both use candid and unsentimental personal history as a prime subject matter; and both have stronger work in earlier collections. Many of Addonizio's (Jimmy & Rita) straight-talk poems in Tell Me, dedicated to Laux, depict honest characters who are in the destructive, but often unrevealing, clutches of hard-drinking, doomed relationships, and all manner of problems that subsequently arise. Some of the poems raise the question of what happens when you risk emotional honesty and it doesn't work: in "The Divorcee and Gin," she writes, "God, I love/ what you do to me at night when we're alone,/ how you wait for me to take you into me/ until I'm so confused with you I can't/ stand up anymore." The situations are often compelling, and the performancelike language lends them an air of melodrama that many be intentional, but they don't really rise above the status of well-lineated memoir. The largely domestic and narrative poems of Laux's Smoke shift between internal and external landscapes in a manner that at moments recalls early Richard Hugo: "Somewhere/ a Dumpster is ratcheted open by the claws/ of a black machine. All down the block/ something inside you opens and shuts." Her strongest work here achieves a solid music by using direct address in poems such as "Books" and "The Shipfitter's Wife." Yet the plainspoken approach, aiming at understatement, often specifies too little, letting emotional nuance go unarticulated. While both poets may work in parallel registers, the effect of each is distinct. Unfortunately, many poems in both books do not quite locate the seemingly powerful places that generate the work. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Told in the cracked, smoky voice of someone who has loved and lost a lot and has come out the stronger for it these poems by the author of The Philosopher's Club and Jimmy & Rita crackle with energy yet do not betray the slightest slackening of craft. Addonizio moves from bars to caf s to one-night stands and back to bars singing a sophisticated version of the blues. She may wonder "who has the time for anything/ but their own pleasures and sorrows," but her work never succumbs to melancholy. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
New Yorker
This new collection of poems reads like the most difficult conversation you've ever had with yourself in a bar...Addonizio finds Eros and loss inseparable, where they lurk in lovers' exchanges and at the bottom of empty gin bottles. But these poems serve as affirmations, too, in long lyrical questions and answers that push on into the early morning, braving last call.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781938160417
  • Publisher: BOA Editions, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 12/20/2013
  • Series: American Poets Continuum
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 523,490
  • File size: 412 KB

Meet the Author

Kim Addonizio is the author of Tell Me, a finalist for the 2000 National Book Award for Poetry. She is co-author with Dorianne Laux of The Poet's Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry. Addonizio's first collection, The Philosopher's Club, received the 1994 Great Lakes New Writers' Award and a Silver Medal from the Commonwealth Club of California. She holds a master's degree in creative writing from San Francisco State University and is the recipient of two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a Pushcart Prize. She lives in San Francisco.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Singing


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 stayawake and listen?

* * *


There's a bird crying outside, or maybe calling, anyway it goes on and on without stopping, so I begin to think it's my bird, my insistent I, I, I that today is so trapped by some nameless but still relentless longing that I can't get any further than this, one note clicking metronomically in the afternoon silence, measuring out some possible melody I can't begin to learn. I could say it's the bird of my loneliness asking, as usual, for love, for more anyway than I have; I could as easily call it grief, ambition, knot of self that won't untangle, fear of my own heart. All I can do is listen to the way it keeps on, as if it's enough just to launch a voice against stillness, even a voice that says so little, that no one is likely to answer with anything but sorrow, and their own confusion. I, I, I, isn't it the sweetest sound, the beautiful, arrogant ego refusing to disappear? I don't know what I want, only that I'm desperate for it, that I can't stop asking. That when the bird finally quiets I need to say it doesn't, that all afternoon I hear it, and into the evening; that even now, in the darkness, it goes on.

* * *


In every bar there's someone sitting alone and absolutely absorbed by whatever he's seeing in the glass in front of him, a glass that looks ordinary, with something clear or dark inside it, something partially drunk but never completely gone. Everything's there: all the plans that came to nothing, the stupid love affairs, and the terrifying ones, the ones where actual happiness opened like a hole beneath his feet and he fell in, then lay helpless while the dirt rained down a little at a time to bury him. And his friends are there, cracking open six-packs, raising the bottles, the click of their meeting like the sound of a pool cue nicking a ball, the wrong ball, that now edges, black and shining, toward the waiting pocket. But it stops short, and at the bar the lone drinker signals for another. Now the relatives are floating up with their failures, with cancer, with plateloads of guilt and a little laughter, too, and even beauty—some afternoon from childhood, a lake, a ball game, a book of stories, a few flurries of snow that thicken and gradually cover the earth until the whole world's gone white and quiet, until there's hardly a world at all, no traffic, no money or butchery or sex, just a blessed peace that seems final but isn't. And finally the glass that contains and spills this stuff continually while the drinker hunches before it, while the bartender gathers up empties, gives back the drinker's own face. Who knows what it looks like; who cares whether or not it was young once, or ever lovely, who gives a shit about some drunk rising to stagger toward the bathroom, some man or woman or even lost angel who recklessly threw it all over—heaven, the ether, the celestial works—and said, Fuck it, I want to be human? Who believes in angels, anyway? Who has time for anything but their own pleasures and sorrows, for the few good people they've managed to gather around them against the uncertainty, against afternoons of sitting alone in some bar with a name like the Embers or the Ninth Inning or the Wishing Well? Forget that loser. Just tell me who's buying, who's paying; Christ but I'm thirsty, and I want to tell you something, come close I want to whisper it, to pour the words burning into you, the same words for each one of you, listen, it's simple, I'm saying it now, while I'm still sober, while I'm not about to weep bitterly into my own glass, while you're still here—don't go yet, stay, stay, give me your shoulder to lean against, steady me, don't let me drop, I'm so in love with you I can't stand up.

* * *


You know how hard it is sometimes just to walk on the streets downtown, how everything enters you the way the scientists describe it—photons streaming through bodies, caroming off the air, the impenetrable brick of buildings an illusion—sometimes you can feel how porous you are, how permeable, and the man lurching in circles on the sidewalk, cutting the space around him with a tin can and saying Uhh! Uhhhh! Uhh! over and over is part of it, and the one in gold chains leaning against the glass of the luggage store is, and the one who steps toward you from his doorway, meaning to ask something apparently simple, like What's the time, something you know you can no longer answer; he's part of it, the body of the world which is also yours and which keeps insisting you recognize it. And the trouble is, you do, but it's happening here, among the crowds and exhaust smells, and you taste every greasy scrap of paper, the globbed spit you step over, your tongue is as thick with dirt as though you've fallen on your hands and knees to lick the oil-scummed street, as sour as if you've been drinking the piss of those men passing their bottle in the little park with its cement benches and broken fountain. And it's no better when you descend the steps to the Metro and some girl's wailing off-key about her heart—your heart— over the awful buzzing of the strings, and you hurry through the turnstile, fumbling out the money that's passed from how many hands into yours, getting rid of all your change except one quarter you're sure she sees lying blind in your pocket as you get into a car and the doors seal themselves behind you. But still it isn't over. Because later, when you're home, looking out your window at the ocean, at the calm of the horizon line, and the apple in your hand glows in that golden light that happens in the afternoon, suffusing you with something you're sure is close to peace, you think of the boy bagging groceries at Safeway, of how his face was flattened in a way that was familiar—bootheel of a botched chromosome—and you remember his canceled blue eyes, and his hands, flaking, rash-reddened, that lifted each thing and caressed it before placing it carefully in your sack, and the monotonous song he muttered, paper or plastic, paper or plastic, his mouth slack, a teardrop of drool at the corner; and you know he's a part of it too, raising the fruit to your lips you look out at the immense and meaningless blue and know you're inside it, you realize you're eating him now.

* * *


Suppose we could see evil with such clarity we wouldn't hesitate to stamp it out like stray sparks from a fire. Look at those boys shooting baskets in the park, jostling each other to hook the ball through the iron circle at the end of the asphalt—what if you knew
a secret about one of them? Shirtless, he stands vibrating at the edge of an imaginary line, the orange globe trembling at the tips of his fingers, sweat drawing the light into his skin—what if he'd done something unspeakable, something I can't
talk about but know you can imagine, to the one you love most in this world? Your child, maybe, or the person whose body you know so well you can see it simply by closing your eyes—What if he'd broken that body;
do you think if I handed you a gun you would walk up to that shining boy and use it? You might think first that maybe he couldn't help himself, maybe he was trying as he stood there concentrating on his shot to stop the noise
of some relentless machine grinding away in his brain, the same one you hear in yours sometimes, bearing down until you can't tell what's true anymore, or good. Suppose God began to have that trouble. Suppose the first man
turned out cruel and stupid, a cartoon creature that farted and giggled continuously; suppose the woman ripped saplings from the earth all day and refused to speak or be grateful for anything. What if they decided to torment
the smaller, weaker beasts, and just as God was about to strike them dead and start over they turned toward each other and discovered fucking, and the serpent whispered Look at them and God's head filled with music while the wild sparks leaped

from their bodies, bright as the new stars in the heavens.

* * *


It feels so good to shoot a gun, to stand with your legs apart holding a nine millimeter in both hands aiming at something that can't run. Over and over I rip holes
in the paper target clamped to its hanger, target I move closer with the flick of a switch or so far away its center looks like a small black planet in its white square of space. It feels good to nestle a clip
of bullets against the heel of your hand, to ratchet one into the chamber and cock the hammer back and fire, the recoil surging along your arms as the muzzle kicks up, as you keep control. It's so good you no longer wonder
why some boys lift them from bottom drawers and boxes at the backs of closets, and drive fast into lives they won't finish, lean from their car windows and let go a few rounds into whatever's out there. You can hear what comes back as they speed away:
burst glass, or the high ring of struck steel, or maybe moans. Now you want to take the thing and hurl it into the ocean, to wait until it drops down through the dark and cold and lodges so deep
nothing could retrieve it. But you know it would float back and wash up like a bottle carrying a message from a dead man. You stand there firing until the gun feels light again, and innocent. And then you reload.
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

The Numbers 11
The Singing 12
Glass 13
Quantum 15
Theodicy 17
Target 19
Salmon 20
A Childhood 21
The Moment 22
Garbage 23
Things That Don't Happen 25
Ha 28
Night of the Living, Night of the Dead 29
Siamese 30
Virgin Spring 31
Therapy 33
New Year's Day 34
Generations 36
Near Heron Lake 41
Crafts Fair, Picuris Pueblo 42
Collapsing Poem 43
The Divorcee and Gin 45
At Moss Beach 46
Ranchos de Taos, August 47
Blue Door 48
Intimacy 51
The Embers 53
Last Call 54
Nothing 55
Last Gifts 56
The Revered Poet Instructs Her Students on the Importance of Revision 57
Phantom Anniversary 59
For Sleep 60
The Promise 61
The Body In Extremis 62
Rain 63
Beginning with His Body and Ending in a Small Town 64
Tell Me 65
Mermaid Song 67
Spill 68
The Lovers 69
Affair 70
Onset 73
"What Do Women Want?" 74
Good Girl 75
Physics 76
Aliens 78
Like That 79
Prayer 81
Fine 82
The Witness 83
Leaving Song 84
One-Night Stands 85
Getting Older 86
For Desire 87
Flood 88
Acknowledgments 89
About the Author 93
Colophon 96
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2001

    kim's latest collection is as awesome as her first

    Tell Me is as wonderful as Philosopher's Club. The poems have a raw, sensuous power to them. They feel confessional without being confessionalist poetry. This is just an awesome collection from a wonderful poet. I'm turning into such a fan of hers that i may have to become president of the fan club.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2000

    Tough Yet Tender

    Each of the poems in this book are so powerful, I needed to remind myself to keep breathing as I read each one. The voice is strong, brutally honest, and courageous, and yet, at the same time, there is an ever present vulnerability and tenderness. I have enjoyed re-reading each poem especially, 'Glass,' 'The Numbers,' 'Target,' and 'The Promise.'

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)