Jennifer L. Knox



Animals Without Brains


There's no such thing.
Starfish, robots, Christmas trees
own several shy holes
ringed with feelers sucking data up.
We can make Cup-o-Soup
in our own cupped hands. Eliminate
the middle man. I found the perfect
mittens for it in a box marked "CAVE"
along with a full set of anatomically correct
porcelain football players.  The way beer logos
swoop under their scrimmage like Silver Surfer
makes me woozy—where does the real
ground begin? Wait…the cheerleaders are
spelling out something with their bodies.
What's it say? Oh, I see. It's not a word, it's a
map, with one road that doesn't go
all the way to the ocean.




Extracurricular Activities


Pictures with my legs in them, even far away ones, made me want to punch myself. The pantyhose helped other girls but not me. When I made co-captain, I knew I'd have to be in a lot more pictures, right up front, so I started puking up my food and burying it in holes I dug between apricot trees in the orchard. The blossoms made a mess and turned the color of cigarettes when they died. No one noticed. Eyebrows came next (I heard the hair growing). I plucked until I plucked them all out, then drew them in when they wouldn't come back by themselves. The arch took months to master. I got lots of compliments at first and made out and more with boys, which I wanted, but the boys still hated me. I thought I could convince them of something. I had lots of ideas for better lies next time. When the yearbook arrived, I tore out every page with me on it—drill team, show choir, cross country—but the pages were stuck together in the binding, rip one out and another followed until only the gold cover and rows of unknown freshmen were left. I had no control of my hands when it happened. I was sure I'd crossed the line, but it was only a line.




Please Stop Yelling at Me, Part 4


You're so painfully awkward to watch, I'd pity you if you weren't such a lying, paranoid twat. The time at the reception when I told you Bill Cunningham was in the corner, and you marched over with your eyes open way too wide like you had hyperthyroidism, grabbed his arm, and yipped, "Bill! I think we have a friend in common! Bill! I think we have a friend in common!" and he said "Let go of me," once, twice, then he threw your grabby little hand off his arm like a tacky plastic bracelet and ran away from you. Who told you to do that to people? Did you read it in some corporate bullshit management guide? Harnessing Your Inner Fucknut? First of all, it's Mr. Cunningham to you, you red state hick. Second of all, this is New York City. You don't touch anyone, ever. You said there were no analytics for the website. That was a lie. You told me you wanted to fire all the old women in the office, all the fat women in the office, and all the "non-native English speakers" in the office and replace them with young white people. You said, "No one has to know the subjects we discuss at our staff meetings." Translation: "Don't tell anyone who could fire me that I'm wasting everyone's time plotting creepy power plays and babbling on for hours about 'synergy' and 'build outs.'" You lie about shacking up with your boyfriend while you wear that cross around your neck, and we all know he's got "chronic back problems" means he won't fuck you. You're living in platonic shame. And for the love of God, eat something besides bread! Some protein. Those puffy blue bags under your eyes look like they're full of toilet bowl cleaner. I know you'll know this poem's about you, but your sneaky little brain's so good at telling lies, it'll probably lie it's way out of the fact that this poem even exists.