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9 Knotts

March 24, 2014

The poet Bill Knott died earlier this month. I had seen mention of him before, as someone a little unusual, unassimilated, a different-drummer poet, maybe living up to his name somehow. But I had never read him until this weekend. Not sure what to think of his work yet, but I would like to share a sampling of his shortest poems. They should not be taken as entirely representative, but they do showcase some of his strengths. If you count more than nine, it is for perversity’s sake, as he would appreciate.

KNOT (Hendedecasyllabics)
After you’ve sewn it, bite the thread off my grave–
Please leave no loose seam of me to wave above
The bones unknitting, the flesh unweaving love.

Here for ear-rings my lobes
Are pierced by scythes
Whose handletips bump along
The very ground I despise!

I will ruin you
By leaving my fingerprints
On all your crimes

First, cover yourself completely with chameleons.

Then, walk down the street, lingering to talk to those
you know.

The one –if any– who realizes you are covered with
chameleons is your enemy.

The one who reckonizes you as Greta Garbo is your lover.

Hair is heaven’s water flowing eerily over us
Often a someone drifts off down their long hair and is lost

The sea is the cargo of empty ships
Moon bears the sun when it’s gone
My face with the trace of your lips
Will fare from now on and on

Even when the streets are empty,
even at night, the stopsign
tells the truth.

We brush the other, invisible moon.
Its caves come out and carry us inside.

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.

If you are still alive when you read this,
close your eyes. I am
under their lids, growing black.

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