4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Bitch

  • Now, when he and I meet, after all these years,
  • I say to the bitch inside me, don’t start growling.
  • He isn’t a trespasser anymore,
  • Just an old acquaintance tipping his hat.
  • My voice says, “Nice to see you,”
  • As the bitch starts to bark hysterically.
  • He isn’t an enemy now,
  • Where are your manners, I say, as I say,
  • “How are the children? They must be growing up.”
  • At a kind word from him, a look like the old days,
  • The bitch changes her tone: she begins to whimper.
  • She wants to snuggle up to him, to cringe.
  • Down, girl! Keep your distance
  • Or I’ll give you a taste of the choke-chain.
  • “Fine, I’m just fine,” I tell him.
  • She slobbers and grovels.
  • After all, I am her mistress. She is basically loyal.
  • It’s just that she remembers how she came running
  • Each evening, when she heard his step;
  • How she lay at his feet and looked up adoringly
  • Though he was absorbed in his paper;
  • Or, bored with her devotion, ordered her to the kitchen
  • Until he was ready to play.
  • But the small careless kindnesses
  • When he’d had a good day, or a couple of drinks,
  • Come back to her now, seem more important
  • Than the casual cruelties, the ultimate dismissal.
  • “It’s nice to know you are doing so well,” I say.
  • He couldn’t have taken you with him;
  • You were too demonstrative, too clumsy,
  • Not like the well-groomed pets of his new friends.
  • “Give my regards to your wife,” I say. You gag
  • As I drag you off by the scruff,
  • Saying, “Good-bye! Good-bye! Nice to have seen you again.”

Carolyn Kizer was born in 1925 in Spokane, Washington, to socially prominent parents. Highly accomplished even as a teenager, she published a poem in the New Yorker when she was just 17. At the University of Washington in Seattle, she studied poetry with Theodor Roethke, and from 1959 till ’65 she was editor of Poetry Northwest, a magazine she cofounded. In 1966, Kizer became the first director of Literary Programs for the National Endowment for the Arts. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1985 for her collection Yin. A poet of wit, irony, and intellectual precision, she described her poems as the kind that “have what you might call ‘a sting in the tail.’” Kizer died on October 9 of last year in Sonoma, California, where she had made her home for many years. “Bitch” is from her collection Cool, Calm & Collected: Poems 1960–2000, published by Copper Canyon Press, and is reprinted here with their permission.   

Sponsored
Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Marche De Noel Winter Fair, Banksyland, Snowside Winter Festival

Events December 9-December 10, 2022
  • Now, when he and I meet, after all these years,
  • I say to the bitch inside me, don’t start growling.
  • He isn’t a trespasser anymore,
  • Just an old acquaintance tipping his hat.
  • My voice says, “Nice to see you,”
  • As the bitch starts to bark hysterically.
  • He isn’t an enemy now,
  • Where are your manners, I say, as I say,
  • “How are the children? They must be growing up.”
  • At a kind word from him, a look like the old days,
  • The bitch changes her tone: she begins to whimper.
  • She wants to snuggle up to him, to cringe.
  • Down, girl! Keep your distance
  • Or I’ll give you a taste of the choke-chain.
  • “Fine, I’m just fine,” I tell him.
  • She slobbers and grovels.
  • After all, I am her mistress. She is basically loyal.
  • It’s just that she remembers how she came running
  • Each evening, when she heard his step;
  • How she lay at his feet and looked up adoringly
  • Though he was absorbed in his paper;
  • Or, bored with her devotion, ordered her to the kitchen
  • Until he was ready to play.
  • But the small careless kindnesses
  • When he’d had a good day, or a couple of drinks,
  • Come back to her now, seem more important
  • Than the casual cruelties, the ultimate dismissal.
  • “It’s nice to know you are doing so well,” I say.
  • He couldn’t have taken you with him;
  • You were too demonstrative, too clumsy,
  • Not like the well-groomed pets of his new friends.
  • “Give my regards to your wife,” I say. You gag
  • As I drag you off by the scruff,
  • Saying, “Good-bye! Good-bye! Nice to have seen you again.”

Carolyn Kizer was born in 1925 in Spokane, Washington, to socially prominent parents. Highly accomplished even as a teenager, she published a poem in the New Yorker when she was just 17. At the University of Washington in Seattle, she studied poetry with Theodor Roethke, and from 1959 till ’65 she was editor of Poetry Northwest, a magazine she cofounded. In 1966, Kizer became the first director of Literary Programs for the National Endowment for the Arts. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1985 for her collection Yin. A poet of wit, irony, and intellectual precision, she described her poems as the kind that “have what you might call ‘a sting in the tail.’” Kizer died on October 9 of last year in Sonoma, California, where she had made her home for many years. “Bitch” is from her collection Cool, Calm & Collected: Poems 1960–2000, published by Copper Canyon Press, and is reprinted here with their permission.   

Sponsored
Sponsored
Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Brake checking on San Diego freeways

The predictable response to tailgating
Next Article

The Mira Mesa library security guard’s tale

“You are in the children’s area. I really can’t have that knife in here, sir. Please?”
Comments
Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town The Gonzo Report — Making the musical scene, or at least reporting from it Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close