Bill Knott

Bill Knott Poems

I examine
my skin

searching for

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

-to S.

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

I am a modest house, a house solely
notable for the fact I lived here once.
Its brass plaque depicts an oxygen eye
in which two pupils of hydrogen dance.

Bill Knott Biography

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.)

The Best Poem Of Bill Knott


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.

Bill Knott Comments

Kumarmani Mahakul 05 October 2020

Bill Knott, who ranks #271 on top 500 poets of the world on date 05 October 2020 is well known as Saint Giraud. His poems are very interesting and valuable for society. Sun never fades for him and flowers bloom carrying God's grace in his word. His each plan is established by as per God's will.

0 0 Reply
Walterrean Salley 29 November 2016

I'm just learning of Bill Knott, and have enjoyed reading his works. Very interesting; his verses go deep. Deepest regrets in learning of his death. **For Leona Person: Concerning the poem- 'Advice from the Experts' by Bill Knott. The experts were onlookers - those people who advised the poet not to jump in his attempt to commit ‘suicide.’ Thankfully, he took their advice and his life was spared.

2 1 Reply
Johnny Case 24 March 2014

I've long considered Bill Knott to be among the best poets of our time. March 12th,2014 will be known as a sad day for American poetry.

4 3 Reply
Leona Person 05 November 2011

What does advice from the experts mean

5 4 Reply
Molaire Jules 31 January 2008

Congratulations on your books, Bill!

2 3 Reply

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