Don’t worry. I’m not going to try and answer that question. In fact, it’s just the title of a Kim Addonizio poem that I love and that I recently happened onto. Here it is w/out it’s title —

I want a red dress.
I want it flimsy and cheap,
I want it too tight, I want to wear it
until someone tears it off me.
I want it sleeveless and backless,
this dress, so no one has to guess
what’s underneath. I want to walk down
the street past Thrifty’s and the hardware store
with all those keys glittering in the window,
past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old
donuts in their café, past the Guerra brothers
slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly,
hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders.
I want to walk like I’m the only
woman on earth and I can have my pick.
I want that red dress bad.
I want it to confirm
your worst fears about me,
to show you how little I care about you
or anything except what
I want. When I find it, I’ll pull that garment
from its hanger like I’m choosing a body
to carry me into this world, through
the birth-cries and the love-cries too,
and I’ll wear it like bones, like skin,
it’ll be the goddamned
dress they bury me in.

Doesn’t that just kill? Kim is a tough cookie, anyway, and lots of her poetry is scalding. I like to turn people onto poems and to poets like Kim because I don’t think living poets get read enough. Thanks to the net, lots of terrific poems are on-line and free. You can read more by Kim or Dorrianne Laux or Denise Duhamel or Tony Hoagland just by hitting a few buttons.

By the way, thinking back to last week’s censorship discussions, poetry is rarely censored. Here’s an old joke that everybody in the poetry business knows: Q. “What happens to poets who write obscene poems that advocate overthrowing the government?” A. “They get published in an independent literary magazine.”

Ba-dum. Rim shot. And often painfully true.