Arts & Culture · Poetry

Poetry Sunday: 'Lucifer at the Starlite,' by Kim Addonizio

Lucifer at the Starlite         –after George Meredith Here’s my bright idea for life on earth: better management. The CEO has lost touch with the details. I’m worth as much, but I care; I come down here, I show my face, I’m a real regular. A toast: To our boys and girls in the war, grinding through sand, to everybody here, our host who’s mostly mist, like methane rising from retreating ice shelves. Put me in command. For every town, we’ll have a marching band. For each thoroughbred, a comfortable stable; for each worker, a place beneath the table. For every forward step a stumbling. A shadow over every starlit thing.   6469264 First appeared in Threepenny Review and published in Lucifer at the Starlite, by Kim Addonizio. Copyright © 2011 by Kim Addonizio. With permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.   [caption id="attachment_110943" align="alignleft" width="256"]KimAddonizio_NewBioImage_Credit-LinTan Photo Credit: Lin Tan[/caption] Kim Addonizio is the author of six poetry collections, two novels, two story collections, and two books on writing poetry, The Poet’s Companion (with Dorianne Laux) and Ordinary Genius. She has received fellowships from the NEA and Guggenheim Foundations, two Pushcart Prizes, and was a National Book Award Finalist for her collection, Tell Me. Two new books are out this summer: Mortal Trash: Poems (W.W. Norton) and a memoir-in-essays, Bukowski in a Sundress (Penguin). Addonizio also has two words/music CDs:  Swearing, Smoking, Drinking, & Kissing (with Susan Browne) and My Black Angel, a companion to My Black Angel: Blues Poems & Portraits, featuring woodcuts by Charles D. Jones. Her work has been translated into several languages. She teaches and performs internationally. Her most recent books are Mortal Trash, June 2016, which can be ordered at here and Bukowski in a Sundress, June 2016, which can be ordered at here. For more information visit www.kimaddonizo.com.    

Poet’s Note

This sonnet is based on one by the nineteenth-century poet George Meredith titled “Lucifer in Starlight,” in which Lucifer rises up from his “dark dominion” and flies over the earth.  He reaches the stars, “which are the brain of heaven.” Realizing that there is an “army of unalterable law” keeping him in his place, he sinks back down into despair. This seemed to me a far more hopeful vision of the order of things than is warranted, given the conditions of life on earth. So I set out to write a counter sonnet, suggesting he may not have sunk back to the infernal realms but instead made a campaign stop on earth, in a local dive bar. (The poem has often been misspelled, and therefore possibly misunderstood, as “Lucifer at the Starlight.”) God, the CEO, has reaped his offshore tax shelter loot and split. Lucifer, on the other hand, is “a real regular.” I find that the more I write, the more I am in dialogue with writers who came before me. More so than with my contemporaries, many of whom seem interested only in telling their stories sans any intellectual or linguistic exploration. Though I prefer them to the writers bricking up any comprehensible emotion or meaning and leaving us to stand outside the walls vainly trying to decipher the faint mutterings within.
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  • Sally Bliumis-Dunn August 14, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    Feels like a collection of these poems and essays would make a great book. Just sayin’.

    Reply
  • Sally Bliumis-Dunn August 14, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    Feels like a collection of these poems and essays would make a great book. Just sayin’.

    Reply
  • Sally Bliumis-Dunn August 14, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    Really enjoyed both Kim’s poem and the careful commentary. This Sunday Poem will make good teaching fodder for those at a college level. Thank you, Becky.

    Reply
  • Sally Bliumis-Dunn August 14, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    Really enjoyed both Kim’s poem and the careful commentary. This Sunday Poem will make good teaching fodder for those at a college level. Thank you, Becky.

    Reply
  • Sherry Donovan August 14, 2016 at 10:29 am

    Thank you,Rebecca Foust for sharing Addonizio’s poetry this morning. Stunning, thought provoking, it stays with you.

    Reply
  • Sherry Donovan August 14, 2016 at 10:29 am

    Thank you,Rebecca Foust for sharing Addonizio’s poetry this morning. Stunning, thought provoking, it stays with you.

    Reply
  • Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. August 14, 2016 at 8:38 am

    Well, this is certainly a Sunday poem that produces thought! Becky,
    thank you for introducing me to this unsettling poem and to its author. I am ordering her books now. We are so very fortunate to have you as our Poetry Editor where you teach and expand the knowledge of average readers who want to read poetry in more substantial ways. Thank you.

    Reply
  • Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. August 14, 2016 at 8:38 am

    Well, this is certainly a Sunday poem that produces thought! Becky,
    thank you for introducing me to this unsettling poem and to its author. I am ordering her books now. We are so very fortunate to have you as our Poetry Editor where you teach and expand the knowledge of average readers who want to read poetry in more substantial ways. Thank you.

    Reply