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Poetry Radio Project

Cocktail Hour

Angela Kim

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Lush: A Poetry Anthology and Cocktail Guide
(Spout Press)
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Tis the season for holiday parties and the goodies that come along with them, like cocktails. Whether you're preparing for a party this evening or planning on going to a soiree, it's time to see beyond the ingredients of your drink. Spout Press released a poetry anthology dedicated to cocktails titled "Lush." We asked poets Stephen Burt, Cindy King, and Sima Rabinowitz to share some insight about their cocktail of choice. (Poems from "Lush: A Poetry Anthology and Cocktail Guide." Spout Press, 2006)


"Amaretto Sour"
By Stephen Burt

Your very own silver tights
Sag slightly after a kick
And Marta has her eye on Murray Hill.
Anonymous "space-age bachelor pad"
Extravagance, ¾ time,
The velvet whirl of scarlet
Pleats (serve cold, with orange and cherry or lime)--

Above the New York Eye
And Ear Hospital, the dawn
Breaks promises, its coffee turns to cream,
The bubble machine
Steals summer from its balcony and sends
The rebels or revelers off
Their pedestals and home in awkward threes,
Through proclamations from the queen of queens;
Monday will see
The cointreau and Grand Marnier
At rest on their high shelves,
The falsies back in their box, the mirror-ball rings
And feathery bangles away
And all of us our daylight selves. But now
And for a few sides yet,
In pink lipstick and pastel cigarettes
You are the girl for whom such things are done:
In jaunty stares, in rapid, amateur
And crowded dips and Spanish pirouettes
You spin because everything does. If you can, you mean
To go round more than once, and you won't stand
Still; as long as your ride allows, you will
Strike poses counterclockwise, looking up
Across a crowded floor to re-
Invent or reinstate
Some youth for which you grieve:
Last sliver of ice in a glass, last minute of play,
The ninth-grade boy who called, but never asked you out,
Or the girl who never gave you the time of day.


"The ACME Speed-Queen"
By Cindy King

She paves her ways with a steamroller,
flattening the evening like a one-sided record
that she plays for me when she wants to remember.

She thinks it sounds as smooth as it looks,
but when I listen, I hear no music
over the crackle of hot tar and gravel.

She blends a cocktail to prove she knows the difference
between mixed up and confused and before pouring,
murmurs her name into my glass. I drink

and feel it at the back of my throat,
as soft and scratchy as fiberglass
soaked in a whisky sour. She takes

the shape of whatever lies on top of her,
becomes a backward impression --
a mattress fits her better than any body.

And like all of these people she meets,
I come with my jackhammer,
tear up the one-way street. Her breath
skips like a needle at the finish of a song.


"What I Gave Up for Lent"
By Sima Rabinowitz

measuring cups, shot glass
cloistered rhymes
my Catholic past (Edith Stein, Simone Weil)

both kinds of contrition
theories (of)
pattern recognition

pattern recognition
moveable fasts
Manhattan (the cocktail and the island)

the hungry poetics
a penitent aesthetic
my Catholic future (homilies, apologetics)



More stories from our Poetry Radio Project series


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