Reading Tracey Knapp

by | Oct 21, 2015 | Reading




Come night. Come
sirens and midnight babies
born in the backseats
of taxicabs. Come moon.

You crazy weeping
alcoholic, quit drinking
yourself into nothingness.
Someone’s trumpet
has gone missing tonight.

Someone is looking
for you, holding your
hairbrush to the nose
of a bloodhound.

Leave your shadow
on the door mat
and come inside. I’ll cook
you up something good,
a grilled cheese sandwich
to go with that frown.

It’s just us girls
tonight. Let’s spray paint
the stairwell, burn
phonebooks in the bathtub.

Even though you’re telling me
you’re done, it’s over, I’ve still hung
my clothes out to dry overnight
in the ocean wind, and that tide

is all your work. You may
have been the first,
but you’re not the only one
to circle your grief, to slowly
darken because of it.

I know that it’s hard to show
your face in the face
of the sun and his narcissism,
the earth’s pushy shadow,
but I’ve seen you in the daylight,
edging into the sky
early for a while, urging

the herons to stab at fish,
the street cars to lurch
up and over the long hill
before they rattle on down towards the bay.

Moon, it’s two in the morning
and it’s time to stop hiding:
the French Alps are talking
about your new glow,
how you actually look younger,
and all the dogs adore you.




Sometimes I think I’m better off
keeping my mouth shut. Other times
I open up and hope something good

falls in—a sleeping pill, a flower petal
soft as the wing of a moth. I hope for
a moth to fly in through the crack in the glass.

For the glass to uncrack, unrest to surrender.
It’s too late to revive the sheep. I mean to say
I’ve barely slept all week, still thinking

about the fur shell of a dead squirrel
full of maggots I found in the backyard.
I had to hold the thing,

lift it with a rake and wrap it
in a shopping bag. I threw it in the dumpster,
the body light and warm with stench.

Something parasitic remains in you
when you handle certain matters.
It makes you want to remove

what lingers and put it in the ground.
I gave the rake to the neighbors,
and avoided the backyard, even after

winter, when the crows crowded the trees and cried.
I closed for business. I gave up
whatever I had that felt like it was dying on me—

an old cactus in a teacup, my dumb guitar,
the facial expressions for thanks and I don’t think so.
I left a friend that year.

I stopped calling my mother
because who needs the same bad advice
you’d already give to yourself?

Once she told me to write it all down
and look where that has gotten me.




Another kitten collage
at the vet—how cute.
I flirt with the technician.
My dog hides under
the metal table.
I don’t blame him.

No one wants a thermometer
up their butt, even if it means
feeling better later. I’m not feeling
any better about the sparrow
my dog ate or all those clothes
in my closet covered in fur.

You would think
that a closet is a great place
to hide, but after a few hours
it feels like you’re shrinking.

You would think
someone would notice. No one
knocked down the door
after three days straight
of sitting in bed eating nachos.

I’ve had enough contact
for one week, enough nachos
for a lifetime. My dog is enough.

Enough lives in my life, so exhausting.

All my life, I’m either showing up
or shying away. Shaking hands
or taking off. Every day,
my dog drags me around the lake,
investigates the bushes as if something
has happened there. Could be
a bagel or a dead bird.

Could be something that should
be found, a pigeon feather
or a razor blade.

Both glimmer in the glance
of the sun. You can’t hide
from that kind of witness.




all from Tracey Knapp’s Mouth, 42 Miles Press, 2015