All it takes is Laura Riding's riding-
crop across my butt, and I'm off:
Git-up horsie she cries astride me as
I lay down in the empty street and parked
My feet against the gutter's curb while from
Who whispers here is forgotten.
Saliva's emptiest fruit
adorns the stones,
One day we notice that the sun
needs feeding. Immediately
a crash program begins: we fill rockets
with wheat, smoke-rings, razorblades, then,
Satiety help me I have inhabit
of this world. Extant upon its designs
to be more aimlessly fluttering at
the window, to shadow all the patterns
In retrospect the tragic nature
of sea is a taste wept too daily,
Many decades after graduation
the students sneak back onto
the school-grounds at night
and within the pane-lit windows
I'm tired of murdering children.
Once, long ago today, they wanted to live;
now I feel Vietnam the place
where rigor mortis is beginning to set-in upon me.
But if they'd give us toys and twice the stuff most
parents splurge on the average kid, orphans, I submit, need more than enough;
in fact, stacks wrapped with our names nearly hid
the tree: these sparkling allotments yearly
Even if the mountain I climbed
Proved to be merely a duncecap It
was only on gaining its peak
That that knowledge reached me.
Tying the pimp in dreams to a lamppost
His tuxedo wet with wheedled kisses, can
I wake up sucking the footprints of toilets
In jails that glitter like crash-dived marquees.
'My age, my beast!' - Osip Mandelstam
On the lips a taste of tolling we are blind
The light drifts like dust over faces
The light lay in shreds across the bed,
only your waking could make it whole;
Here at the height of the day night change
The color of the sky is uncertain,
The sky depending in which direction
One's eye strains, each of its swatches a strange
Bill Knott, originally known as Saint Giraud, was born in Carson City, Michigan. He is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston. He first received recognition with The Naomi Poems published in 1968. He published this work under the pseudonym Saint Geraud (a figure who, it was claimed, lived from 1940 to 1966). Poet Thomas Lux wrote of the collection: “The best poems in this first collection … confront the reader with their directness and imagination …. They’re poems of anguish and frustration because the poet takes responsibility.” Knott’s poems are sometimes surreal, with startling juxtaposed images. Critic Meghan O’Rourke noted the variety of forms in Knott’s poetry, identifying the simple style of some poems and the “highly-torqued syntactic compression” of others. In The Unsubscriber, she found “the mode alternately heroic and vernacular, the subjects ranging from ecocide to the degradations of age to meditations on the sword of Damocles and Rilke’s archaic torso.” Knott, who was an orphan, spent a year in an institution for the mentally ill in Elgin, Illinois, when he was 15; he worked with his uncle at a farm in Michigan, spent two years in the army, and wrote his first book while working as a hospital orderly. He taught for many years at Emerson College in Boston. Bill Knott died on 12 March 2014 at age 74.)
Going to sleep, I cross my hands on my chest.
They will place my hands like this.
It will look as though I am flying into myself.