The Philosopher's Club

Kim Addonizio
  • Kim Addonizio
  • After class Thursday nights
  • the students meet at the Philosopher’s Club.
  • It’s right around the corner from the streetcar tracks
  • at the West Portal tunnel. No one bothers
  • to check I.D.s. Five or six of them
  • get shooters and talk — about sex, usually.
  • Let me tell you about this dildo I bought,
  • one girl says. She describes how it looks
  • when all the gadgets attached to it are going at once.
  • My girlfriend is pregnant, says one of the boys.
  • That’s nothing, says another, I’ve got twins
  • I’ve never seen. It goes on like this all semester.
  • Gradually they learn each other’s stories:
  • the girl raped at knifepoint in Florida,
  • the kid whose old man shot seven people
  • in a trailer park outside Detroit.
  • Life is weird, they agree, touching glasses.
  • The bartender flips channels on the TV,
  • the sound turned down.
  • Spoiled brats, he thinks. He imagines a woman
  • with the blonde’s legs, the brunette’s tits.
  • Dynasty looks boring and he quits
  • at a black-and-white newsreel about the Nazi camps —
  • piles of heads with their mouths open,
  • bodies with arms like chicken wings. On the jukebox
  • Otis Redding sings “Try a Little Tenderness.”
  • One of the regulars stands there
  • popping his gum, jamming in selections.
  • The students, smashed, are hugging each other.
  • I love you, they all say. Outside, in the rain,
  • people are boarding a lit streetcar.
  • As it jolts towards the tunnel
  • some of them look back at the bar,
  • its staticky neon sign
  • the last thing they see as they enter the dark.

Kim Addonizio is an American poet who lives and teaches in the Bay Area. She is the author of two novels, two books about writing poetry, and several collections of poetry, one of which, Tell Me, was a National Book Award finalist. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships. Her poetry collection
Jimmy and Rita has just been republished by Austin State University Press. “The Philosopher’s Club” is taken from her collection The Philosopher’s Club, published by BOA Editions, and is reprinted by permission.

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i like it but it doesn't seem like poetry to me

but what do i know??!!

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