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Enjoy Hot or Iced:
Poems in Conversation and a Conversation

by Denise Duhamel & Amy Lemmon

2011, 28 pages

Denise Duhamel

"Boxed Set Sestina"

I hid my hopes in a cigar box on Christmas, but you gave them away on Boxing Day (in Canada). I clipped box tops for coupons while you gobbled an expensive Bento box lunch. You were a noshow as I waited in line at the box office in the satin pillbox hat I bought at the thrift shop. I collected hatboxes while you flew your box kite wearing only your boxers. Our lovemaking once wore out the box springs, but now you said you felt boxed in. I slumped in the last row while you glowed with someone else in our box seats. You slept in first class while I shivered in the boxcar. I never got your love letter because you forgot to put it in the mailbox. I felt so neglected I ate fistfuls of croutons right from the box in my boxy, unflattering housedress. My shadow box was filled with ceramic figurines of you. Your toolbox was as empty as our icebox. I stayed home, blaring my boom box, while you drank at the bar, wasting quarters on a dusty jukebox. You told me to get off my soapbox. Were our problems bigger than a breadbox? Yes! Especially when I caught you peeing in the sandbox or dipping into the cashbox while you thought I wasn’t looking. It’s true I was a chatterbox, but you can’t deny you put your affection in a lockbox while you played with your vintage Matchbox cars. It was up to me to open the fuse box and fix the problem—up to me to take kickboxing to defend myself. I thought outside the box when I played your favorite song, Daddy Cool’s “Baby, Let Me Bang Your Box,” on my squeezebox. I was hoping to win you back after our most vicious boxing match—thirtynine rounds of screaming that made the German boxer nextdoor growl. It had all started when your word “boxwallah” wasn’t in the Scrabble dictionary; then I won with “carboxyl.” You snatched up your ebony snuffbox while I tore the boxberries from our flowerbox. I stuffed a shoebox with regret. You packed up your Hot Wheels lunchbox and left.

Amy Lemmon
"Enjoy Hot or Iced"

You’ve brewed this stuff, now drink it—
these dreggy-dregs, this filter-silt,
the tiny bits that cling to tongue.
You always liked it strong and now
you’ve got it at its darkest, split
us at the core to brew a full bold flavor,
so each must shoulder/bear the double-weight
of everything except the other’s body.
I hope you have your fun and drink it, too,
iced now as much as it was hot. I don’t. I didn’t
order it this way. I wanted café au lait,
and when the waiter brought it and I asked for water,
he said flat “No” and mugged—a joke, I thought,
but sure enough, he never brought a glass, left me
to fend with froth and squeeze a dollar tip. He thought
he was funny. You think you’re kind, you think
you’re sensible, you think you’re something
I can’t quite imagine. What of the Monet’s
lily-pads of mold on Earl Grey cooling in the jar?
The brown scrub-nulling scum that clings
to the worn Picasso mug? The ghosts of shattered crockery,
the cartoon souls of slain French press carafes?
Yours, yours, mine, ours. It’s a tossup,
so you clay-pigeon it again and pull! Shoot! A hit!
My heart, I mean, that flat and battered thing
you had and lately thought so little of.


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Audio Samples:

Listen to "Boxed Set Sestina"

As read by the author,

Denise Duhamel

Listen to "Enjoy Hot or Iced"

As read by the author,

Amy Lemmon


About the Authors:

Denise Duhamel

Amy Lemmon
Praise For The Enjoy Hot or Iced

Marking the 25th published collection from Slapering Hol Press, this chapbook takes the reader out on the limbs of relationships gone bad. From Duhamel’s hilarious “Madonna and Me,” to Lemmon’s wistful “Enjoy Hot or Iced,” this wide-ranging collection reminds us of the fragility of love and the bitterness of love lost.

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