Jennifer L. Knox

The Real River
March 8, 2015 Knox Jennifer L.

The Real River

For Abelardo Morell


“The real river flows under the river”

—James Galvin


Gauze gaze, the present’s freeze never sticks.
Its microbes twitch in the ice like fat ticks.
Its frames orbit a light source we can’t see off screen,
only its reflection slash refraction buried deep
in dark glass throws its lariat of luminescence
‘round the shade cows coming home from a hard
day ambling. Stars sit stiller than herds, but still swim
lifetimes to be regarded by us turds—how flattering!—
we, stuck like gum on smog’s shoe and true-bling blind.
Where’s stars’ tickertape parade? The Kiwanis’
wooden welcome sign swinging at our city’s edge?
How many Avon ladies’ ding-dongs go unopened—
Skin So Soft sloshing in their kits like Penicillin?
Or are they already over like the frog and songbird?
If not yet, soon enough, for sure: future starlight e’re
blows o’er their thinning hairlines, the pink marrow
of their effortful atoms bleeds out like sugar in snow.
Do pancake stacks of hope, seven layer dips of evil
mourn some or sum of history’s smushedness?
Who cares? See grass left behind in the fissure,
writhing white lichen, and walls you pop through
like how Bugs punked Daffy in “Duck Amok.”
“Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
tantrumed the tyrant, but see how easily his bloat
shuttered, how all tyrants’ dresses get pressed at last
like pansies between a book’s yellowing pages. It’s
cool what flashes endure, how blood bubbles blue
beneath the black and white curtain. Romans led
animals from conquered lands into the coliseum—
peacocks, elephants, gorillas—and tore them apart,
only to see what their deaths resembled, hear their
end game. Light blew through their hides, then
through the hands that held their leashes. Good.
Wonder of the World, my eye. Crumble away, creepos.
Your walls fold like origami in the inner-most matroyshka.
Flavius, shmavius. Here’s your parade, stars,
your homecoming float, your flitsy
tissue paper monoliths.
At first sight: stone.
At second: foam.

Jennifer L. Knox’s new book of poems, The Mystery of the Hidden Driveway, is available fromBloof Books. Her other books, Drunk by Noon and A Gringo Like Me, are also available through Bloof. Her poems have appeared four times in the Best American Poetry series (1997, 2003, 2006, and 2011) as well as the anthologies Great American Prose Poems, From Poet to Present and Best American Erotic Poems. Her work has also appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, American Poetry ReviewFence, McSweeney’s, and Bomb. She is currently at work on her first novel.