Jennifer L. Knox


Shuffling/Off/the Radiant/Object of Desire

How lovely it will be the day I get to do you
some/all the way/to the hilt/how awful the day
you fully blush/crush/shrink/shirk/from my hard
on in the closet under the staircase surrounded
by old coats/vacuums/in the attic’s stale air
dissected by planes of mote-mottled light/
by circular bullet hole light/split you/open
like the time I pressed you in the closet/like
the time you cried/no/just cried/turned from
me/turned over in my hand/bloomed like blood
in a bullet hole/filled with water like my lungs/
like your lungs/like our lungs/more like our
lungs/than my blushing/hard on/groaned/worried
aloud Am I boring you with this shit?/and knew
the answer/knew no such thing/whispered I’ll break
you accidentally like a cheap wine glass/the man
you marry will be taller than me/certainly you
won’t shrink from his bullet holes/won’t not
rub suntan lotion on his hard on/certainly he
will move you just right in the closet/like
a seizure will/he burn you?/bum you out?/how
terrible it will be the day you marry/the blood
in the army men's bullet holes will run through
their eyes/my eyes/bloodshot/and not one/as
half/as good/as me/to you/as half as luminous
as you/opening up/and blinding/blinded by/
the luminous luminous you.


The Cotton Tails Behind Me

Today I said goodbye to the bunnies.
I wasn’t seeing them right anymore—
how sharp their teeth actually were—
I was only seeing me seeing them—
flooding their delicate grassy burrows
with a firehose. They didn’t love me
like I swore they did, the crunchy kale
I brought for them special…but it’s O.K.—
that’s what the songs are all about. 
So now they're behind me, hiding
(rightly so) from bushy bush to bush. 
Out the corner of my eye, all I get’s
an occasional tracer—too white to be
wild—too wide-eyed to do a damn thing
but bite.



A Sea Make-Shift Tambourines

I’m earless here, plus plug ugly, dope-dee-do,
might as well be punching myself in the nuts
into a mic wired to speakers in a bullfight arena,
one of the great Midwestern sluts cum submissive
urinator all over letters from former accompanists
pining our now-outmoded rhythms to drown
out the refrain of my new jingle, to the tune
of “Yankee Doodle,” so here goes:

I wanted to tell you go out and really love
someone for once, give them all your keys,
but how many windows flew I over before
I chose yours, locked tight as mine?  
How many nails can I pull from the walls
of your house and drive into my head?
It don’t matter: We’ll soon be dead.

The chorus lacks umpf, but I think it’d do
well selling soup. I must find a better use
for these chickens stuffed with nickels.




I’ll whisper this to you
in Cambodian
while some never-before-seen
string instrument
pulls your teeth out
through your ear
(it won’t hurt
a bit, but it might

I’ve cut all the limes in two:
the color, like some parrot’s feathers—
the white stripe between the segments,
like the part of my hair—
they wobble and wobble
on the wooden table—
they’ll never come back
together, that’s certain, so go
on: take one up and
squeeze it.




A Bedtime Story for Puff

We haven’t always lived in the trees, kitty—
tucked up like pill bugs between layers of moss.
Back in the desert, we serpentined
from stone to stone, huddled under
their muddy undersides, bathed in troughs
of corralled sheep. Vinegarroons abounded
and awayed with our hen eggs. Dust
on the outside and the in, we were edgeless.
Sure, we scrounged our share of shiny bits:
an abandoned couch sprung open like a watch,
a blue hat gone tan under the wide, white sun.
You’d have hated it, kitty—no leaves
to hide behind. Nothing to swat at.

But then again, vast savannas are sliding
somewhere along the skin of your cells...
Perhaps you would’ve loved to track
approaching sandstorms (they’d take sweet
time climbing over the wide horizon)
or the scent of a single roadrunner woven
into the big, heavy blanket of blank smells.
There were no surprises.

You were just a dust mote then, a tabby-
striped wisp asleep on the lips
of these bright red flowers,
dreaming fat rabbits:
a sneaky, orange, unrepentant eye.