Poetry: Tracey Knapp

Tracey  Knapp’s first full-length collection of poems, Mouth, won the 42 Miles Press Poetry Award and was published in 2015. Tracey has received scholarships from the Tin House Writers’ Workshop and the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fund.  Her work has appeared in Best New Poets 2008 and 2010, Poetry Daily, Five Points, The New Ohio Review and elsewhere.  Tracey earned a BFA in ceramics from Syracuse University, a Master’s degree in English from Ohio University and a Master’s degree in Poetry from Boston University. 



I would never hurt you, at least
not today. Just about any time
after four tomorrow would be okay.
I will be waiting naked at the door.

I will be waiting on the floor with
a sock puppet and a cardboard box
as a stage. I’m writing a one-scener,
a short play. It’s either called
“Pretty Little Pickaxe” or “I’ll Bite You
If You Stay.” How long will this take?

I don’t stick around for pain,
not the kind that scars, anyway,
at least not on my face. I trust you

brought the incriminating audio tape,
the heavy breathing from last Tuesday,
a confession involving a garden rake.

I lied about bronchitis, lied about the lamp
I never really gave to the neighbors,
its lame stem leaning into the trash can
like the cracked neck of a dead crane.

You don’t believe me? I don’t blame you.
I never tell anyone about our sex play,
or at least, I never mention

your name. You could be anybody. Which is
why I’m boss in this game, the kind
of boss who would never fire you, more like

the kind with a horse whip and a bullhorn.
More like a muzzle than a chain.
Come over. I’ve been waiting all day.

There’s a bottle of wine on the counter
that we might never open, that might be better
broken. There’s trouble written all over
my face.



The woman sitting beside me
just pulled her bra out from
her sleeve and I’m thinking
that’s not a bad idea, a little release
from the strain of the day.

It’s time to dim the cabin lights,
time to quiet the constant inner chatter,
the terrifying uncertainties of flight and also
this uncertain life, time to take off
my sneakers and make the best
of this window seat, a song
on my headphones about collapsing
stars. I heard a prediction
of the earth getting hit
by a giant comet in 2029,
the massive tsunami that follows,
swallowing my entire city
and then spitting it
back out. The plane
hiccups over an invisible bump.

Maybe they were right
about the apocalypse,
although I never thought
I would live to see it.
Maybe I will never live to
see the next Star
, or learn
the truth about UFOs,
but I am pretty sure that
I don’t care about crop circles
or celebrity cellulite. I don’t care
about a lot of things anymore, but
I am going to start caring about
myself again, right now,
and then build up
a dedicated following.

I’m going to stop hovering
over dark matter, flirting
with the black hole
of hang-ups and hangovers.

I’m going to fit into
those checkered shorts again,
I’m going to make out
with my hot neighbors
and I’m going to start
eating early dinners.

Oh, late night burgers!
It’s only midnight
but I am ready for my
second bag of salted peanuts
and another Xanax.

I can’t relax when I consider
the man who loves me
even though he should know
better, my little snits
and silences escalating
our tension to a fearful height.

The woman with the bra
has rested her head
on my shoulder, her snore
like the purr of an elderly cat,
slow and staggered.
The clouds ramble by
in inconsistent fits. From
35,000 feet, I can see a city
below me flickering like
a miniature galaxy
in the shape of a crescent,
spooning itself around
some dark lake.