10 July, 2012


July 2012

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 Poems and Art by

~ ~  BILL  KNOTT ~ ~

The Rain Effigy

Besides its breezes, the play of whose yield
is greater than day's, we feel the sky as
prior, as pilgrim. The cleave in our love
leaves a field or bare place for where to build.

Strangely energized by the windshield
wipers, animated by each stoplight's
imperative, by every presence other
than our own grown so absent, we drive

toward the horizon, that groveled traveler.
And we ourselves might kneel before ourselves
if all our effigies hadn't crumbled/decayed

to a bare/stoop pedestal. That stance of us
as we kissed was not as statuary
as we had planned, was it. Less foot less firm.

Three Short Love Poems

~ ~ The trafficlight on Lovers Leap never changes to red.

~ ~ Your nakedness: the sound when I break an apple in half.

              ~ ~ Love almost always waits for its terms to
                     become vague before it starts.

To a Dead Friend

mourning clothes worn
inside out
would be white
if things were right
if opposites ruled

if truth prevailed
then me and you
would be two
instead of the one
we've become


raindrops windowpane
I can't see myself wearing
more daring outfits

Site Echoes

Circling a tree with people
to protect it from people,
to add another arc
to its years may not suffice.

Hold poems up as the bulldozers
come, claim your lines
are rings nearing the core
of a word for wood for all the earth lifts.
It will not suffice.  Far
from its aureole bole
your whirl grows whole
only in ground;


               In Sleep

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

Boy at the Mirror

A child emulates what he can't know
is true, a murderous dew
that appears every morning to be
his face, but already it evaporates at

a touch: the lurking effects of
the unity granted by night are never
enough to maintain this ripeness called
time, this waking up to a cherub-scope

that looks back at him in the glass growth
like hammerblows a devil checks off
a list—the routine begins so early

and even the wattage of the womb
behind him is too bright, too ready
to hale an unsought self into sight.

To Live By

Work from the original toward
the beautiful,
unless the latter comes first
in which case
reverse your efforts to find
a model worthy of such
inane desire.

Even the mouth's being

divided into two lips is
not enough to make words
equal themselves.

Eavesdroppers fear

the hermit's soliloquy.

Wake up, wound, the knife said.


                 All of us who lived on earth
                 and all our loves and wars
                 may not appear at all
                 in the moon's memoirs.

Painting vs. Poetry

Painting is a person placed
between the light and a
canvas so that their shadow
is cast on the canvas and
then the person signs their
name on it whereas poetry
is the shadow writing its
name upon the person.


The Cycle

what's the use
waking all night
to write down truths
which dawn quite
easily refutes


In early childhood an act
consists of another act,
a multiplying chain of
this and that.  Cat, windowsill,

sunlight, they're all events instead
of sights, but eventually they
too give way to the eye.  Time
distances the other senses

until one becomes intent instead
of intrinsicate.  That's why
dimensionally I can only

try to run toward the place
I've already passed, squealing
ba ba ba ba ba ba buh!


See the unicorn’s empty sword,
how its lack takes place
in a lack of place.

Nothingness is its own niche.


                                 A comma is a period which leaks.

Each time I blink
Is a lapse in my life.
Each blink outlives me.

The one I was before
The blink is never
The one I am after.

And the one I shall be
Desires me to cease
Quenched with each crease
Instant of the lids.

An eye juggled on
The tips of its own
Lashes might see
Who I have been then.

                          My River

                          The closer it gets to the sea the more
                          it aches for its source, the wound
                          that sprung it from the ground.


Before we're born we're
lowercase, and after we die,
we return to it. Only life
renders us in capital letters.
(Every headstone ms.
should really be edited
by clones of e.e.cummings.)

Life is caps for the usual reason,
an exaggerated sense
of the significance
of one’s thoughts.
Life is a Beat poet.

Upper existence or
lower nonexistence,
I’m sure the eye adjusts its focus
towards either case—
But which is easier to read—
greatness or goneness,
headline or poem?
Life or its foreword-afterword?

Mishap Message

I bandage my wristwatch
to stop the bleeding
of time but time
is perforce the wound
out of which space empties
Einstein's bag of marbles

the greenie I shoot at its sister the moon
the purey I bury with a note saying no
the blue one weighs in my hand
as light as sky minus earth
earth of course is the last marble

I like to hear it roll
around my showerstall
before I fall into the drain
into that distillate of distance we call

whitecaps whitecaps
beneath each of which
a nurse bobs up and down
cold fingers hold my wrist
cold toes probe my throat
is that my pulse I ask
sisters is that my life
is that the onomatopoeia of the waves
words that jumble space with time
laughter tumbling down a telescope

words that turn to marble all I say
white as my years they bleed
they bleed away
white but white as only Einstein's
hair is white
or a note slipped under drowning doors


The Balloon That Lived on the Moon

The lower gravity was kind to it
It could bounce and soar higher
Than Earth allows
So the balloon was happier
By far
And soon forgot the puncture culture
We perpetuate down here
Where the hate-pins of our eyes skewer
The frailest inflation
The beadiest bubble is not safe

But up there
The bleak unpeopled landscape
Mirrrors more faithfully
A balloon's own sterility and
Essential snootiness

What a round object by its perfect nature
How its boundaries segregate the in from the out
And show what is enough
And what is less

So when you think of the balloon
That lived on the moon you might wonder
Why all its brothers and sisters
Because can't you feel how
When one tugs your hand
Deft with that upward urge how much
It resists your touch
How endlessly
You are not a part of it

State Dinner

The diplomatic corps doles and controls
these photo ops that show how treaty works—
their peace party pops with as many corks
as it would take to fill the bullet holes
in the bodies of all the people they
negotiated away in trade today.

In Order

the dead you
wrote about
in order to
forget about
so you could
write about
the living are
still living there
where you aren't

The Retrieval

In order to recapture
the features of the one
lost, one must gaze
first into nothingness—

in which the semblance
encountered should
be blank, so it can flit
across the screen of

expectation, and wither
all the images there:
as we scan the past for
someone any the same

we see must be cipher
enough to erase that
old recognition which
we hold in our mind.

The search necessitates
losing the present to
the degree we pursue
its opposite.  The ratio

may not be exact, though,
and we may lose more
time than we regain,
the numbers may not

even out. There can be
an excess of loss, a gap
that greets us when we
return to our senses

clutching whomever
we've brought back to
this void which can't
be filled by the thus

recalled person no
matter how beautiful
they hover here now
in place in face of us.

                SUMMER DAYS

                  a butterfly with a sandwich
                  bite out of one wing flies away
                  from the inhabitoads of our shadow
                  or tries to

Rock Picked up from the Beach

To focus on thing, thing whatever it is,
in some cases a mountain, an object
somewhat more intimate for most of us—
a fate transformed then framed into a fact

plucked from a beach full of rocks the same size
and shape, not much to distinguish it or
confer more meaning than perhaps the eyes'
choice, the hand's: what justifies this favor?

Nothing.  And nothing is appropriate
for something common chance has snatched from
phenomena's moment, its montage pace

down the page.  One word leads to the one right
for it: that's right.  One can reach out random
or one can wait until it's in its place.


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.

The End
  Pain has petrified the threshold.

A threshold is everything that can be
seen in the space of the endurance of
our openness: thus at the conclusion
of The Searchers John Wayne is framed never

to return and forced to spur himself, to
escape always the outward-gazing-lust
of that thrust doorway toward the horizon
or so we guess because the door shuts and

cuts him off before he attains it: exit
is lost and we who had followed his flight
from the intimacy of this interior, we
must remain here minus our male-myth-ranger,

and must domestically cry for his exile
while the credits crawl across their reelsill.

Slum Scene

poor children sharing
back and forth their one
set of Dracula’s teeth—
here even the dead
live hand to mouth

To Myself

can be
the magic
which you say                                           
you want,
but only
if you
stand willing                                           
to pull
that rug out
from under                                           
your own
feet, daily.

          The Final Word

                 Our farewells lack the plausibility of our departures.

The Hunger

If a path to the Gingerbread House
could be established by breaking crumbs
off its edifice and sprinkling them
so as to find what lies behind us

across the featureless fairytale
void of childhood: yet how very quick
that trick wears out when the story's track
takes hold, takes toll, a far-older trail

prevails, we're forced to give up this lost
cause; and the fact is that every last
morsel was gone long before the you

or I might totter our way back here
to try to dissuade all these other
Hansel-Gretels hollering in queue.


I look harder
in my wallet
than in my mirror
I already know
what it holds


                  Long candle, ponder, short candle, think.


You know the fable
How a soldier's bible
Kept in his jacket pocket
Stopped a bullet

But that catechism
Born to foster schism
Also stopped his heart his
Mind from finding peace

He would not have had need
Of such a shield
Nor would his blood have been
Thrilled to kill someone
Of another faith
If in that book he had not first read death

A Lesson from the Orphanage

If you beat up someone smaller than you
they won't (and histories prove this) tell

look at those people on the opposite side
of the planet: they want to beat us up but

they're smaller so that's okay.  Not okay is
that most of us will die in the war between

them and us, because small equals (and mice
prove this) sneaky: their spies could spirit all

our nuke aids away and we'd never know—
nick our rocket-satellite knockout Star Peace

Comcodes right out of our shrinking pockets
even our doomsday (the FBI can prove this)

doodads, the ones we mean to use on them,
the rats: and so when they kill us will we

have killed enough of them to win, whose
fist figures bigger in the end?  And what's it prove?—

In the Orphanage, hell, even if they do tell
on you there's no one to tell it to.

                            The moon is your past, sea,
                                     which is why it stirs you.
                                              Each tide is a memory.

Another Cold War Poem

So what if you lived only
One second longer
Than we
Did: to us
You will always be known as the Survivor.


The brow is the face’s map,
on which can be read
the twists and turns it took
to get here. Yet the seams
and cracks on one’s footsoles
show that only through detour
can the road reach itself.

Group Photograph (The Early Years)

Most biographies of the Moderns share
A common pose: ranks of raw youth appear
Often capped and gowned, uniformly there—
It looks alike in all suchwe read.

Torn from some album somewhere, its focus
Is general: all the figures are crushed
Anonymously together and lost—
Just, some airbrush has dinked a single head.

Imagine rummaging through raindrops on
Transmundane panes and eenymeenywhile
Plucking from amongst them 'Source of the Nile'!
How of this many is there but one self—
Whose underneath name obtains its caption—
In book beside book, on shelf after shelf?


A bruise there was, which
Prospered on stale blood;
But growing smaller, the bruise became
A lecturer in escape-routes,
A philosopher of loss; relying
On the body's reluctance to be
Normal, i.e. immortal, it
Had hoped to survive somehow—
As a useful parasite perhaps, draining
The self's hidden wounds,
Masking its aberrations . . . but no.
For always there is no mercy for
Anything that is not whole,
That begs (like the brain) to be alone.

                 Fingerprints look like ripples
                            because time keeps dropping
                                    another stone into our palm.


CELEBRATION (dodecasyllabic)

The conversation-pit is filled to the level
Of the floor with the soil of former parties here—
Crushed cigarettes, napkins, all kinds of cocktail swill—
We stand at its edge, grinning, wondering who's there:

Is there some version of us lost in that rubbish.
Such a Pompeii probably took years of soirees.
Where's the carpet to cover it—dense, bottomless,
It makes the livingroom around it seem empty.

And why get superstitious—why greet our fellow
Guest from way across this trashhold—since we must know
Its surface could bear our most intimate meetings.

Oh, somewhere the host is winking working elbows,
Showing no embarrassment—but here we have grown
Sober over the grave of what greater gatherings.

                in the end we flow
                            like thirst above stones
                                   like hunger above air.

First Sight

Summer is entered through screendoors,
and therefore seems unclear,
at first sight, when it is in fact
a mesh of fine wires
suspended panewise
whose haze has confused the eyes . . .

What if we never entered then—
what if the days remained like this,
a hesitation at the threshold of itself,
expectant, tense, tensile
as lines that crisscross each other
in a space forever latent
where we wait, pressed up against
something trying to retain its vagueness.

See how the unicorn's empty sword,
how its lack takes place
in a lack of place.

Nothingness is its own niche


              Searching it goes
                        alone at night,   
                                —my beacon of ashes.


The only response
to a child's grave is
to lie down before it and play dead 


Silence disguises itself
as vowels, but the loudness
of consonants is also a ruse,
a mask worn to betray
the words we chose to say
only for their echoes.


                                          lay the tragic mask
                                          atop the comic mask

                                          snip out the parts
                                          where they don't match

                                          then take this overlap
                                          make a third mask

                                          a superfluous mask
                                          a mask of excess

                                          a mask that is useless
                                          that has no purpose

                                                      unless of course it is
                                                      the appropriate one

                                                      to be placed on both
                                                      your first and final face


A kite in the shape
of a map floats
over the land it depicts,

               but at night no-one sees
               its roads at the end
               of which a child feels

                                his hand tugged upward,
                                in salutations.

you wake up only when
the dream you're having
can no longer come true

you wake up only when
it's the same old you again
and not that dream person

you wake up in suspense
at what will happen next in
the dream that just ended


please don't scold
the kids who hold
lollipops up
for the raindrops
to lick at on
their way down

what a waste
but imagine the taste
of rainbow thunder
if you could get
your tongue up under it

All poems and images here
 copyright by Bill Knott, all rights reserved.  


Salamander Cove has previously posted Bill Knott's poems and art  here. His artwork has been archived online here

A gracious Thank You to BILL KNOTT  for his kind permission to share these
 poems and paintings here today.

"Sonnet" by Bill Knott

Music: "Meditation Impromptu 1" by Kevin MacLeod.
Visuals and interpretation by Chelsea ("Musical Marionette").