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Elizabeth Knapp

Elizabeth Knapp is the author of Requiem with an Amulet in Its Beak (Washington Writers' Publishing House, 2019) and The Spite House (C&R Press, 2011), winner of the 2010 De Novo Poetry Prize. The recipient of the Robert H. Winner Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Literal Latté Poetry Award, the Discovered Voices Award from Iron Horse Literary Review, and a Maryland State Arts Council Fellowship, she is currently an associate professor of English at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, where she lives.

By This Poet

4

My Brain Is Mad for Baudrillard

Today, I read of scientists’ warnings
about the potential dangers of sex
robots and thought of you. Some blame
the rise of right-wing populism
on postmodern windbags like you, holed
up in your university office, giving head
to your shadow. But Jean, you were right—
we are living in the desert of the real,
where signs metastasize like cancer cells,
and who hasn’t felt the Foucauldian
grip around her wrists, her ankles?
Even desire a simulacrum of itself.
I drowned in you as if in a frozen lake,
but either I or the lake was dreaming.

Requiem with an Amulet in Its Beak

At night, I leave all the lights on in my head.
This way, I know the dead can find me.        

Sometimes they toss me their worldly trinkets:
the moon, wobbly as a child’s loose tooth,
a tuning fork, a spear of lightning for my song.

Like a magpie, I collect them.
I line my own death-nest
with the baubles of the dead.

Nothing, not even death, can harm me.

Self-Portrait as Cindy Sherman's Instagram Account

And why not Sherman herself, you ask?
Because in this instance, the inclusion
of social media denotes a postmodern
approach to self-portraiture, a Baudrillardian
hall of mirrors in which the self is projected
against a million anonymous eyes, all hungry
for a taste of her. How will she deform
herself next? Will she sport a new prosthetic
chin, her hair stand on end, electrocuted?
A Dr. Frankenstein in the lab with herself.
A million followers, and not one will ever
know her—nipped, tucked, and bruised beyond
all recognition. Das Umheimliche: an unhomely
home. A rubber crotch on a mannequin.