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Jennifer L. Knox

Jennifer L. Knox was born in Lancaster, California. She received a BA from the University of Iowa and an MFA from New York University.

Knox is the author of Days of Shame and Failure (Bloof Books, 2015), The Mystery of the Hidden Driveway (Bloof Books, 2010), Drunk by Noon (Bloof Books, 2007), and A Gringo Like Me (Bloof Books, 2007).

Knox’s poetry is known for its darkly imaginative humor. The poet Patricia Smith writes, “I cannot imagine what the inside of her head must be like, all tango and blaring and pinball, locked in its relentless churn. I can't believe that mere covers were able to contain this tender, this snorting laughter, these rampant truths.”

Knox has previously taught creative writing at Hunter College and New York University. She currently lives in Iowa, where she teaches at Iowa State University.


Bibliography

Days of Shame and Failure (Bloof Books, 2015)
The Mystery of the Hidden Driveway (Bloof Books, 2010)
Wir Fürchten Uns (Lux Books, 2008)
Drunk by Noon (Bloof Books, 2007)
A Gringo Like Me (Bloof Books, 2007)

By This Poet

7

The Decorative Airport Fern Is Not What It Pretends to Be

and it takes me a triple-take to realize it's scanning
me, or something near my ear—that must be it. No plant’s 
ever complimented my perfume—wait—there it goes 
again. Did you see that? [Time passes, drinks] "Sure, I 
remember when I thought you were a fern but you were!
Who could blame me?" I tell the what’s now a magnificent
purple tetrahedron, eggplant-sized cilia straining at its corners, just 
a hint of ferniness remains in its fingertips—enough to blush. 
We hug goodbye. The scent of flowers lingers around me 
the next day. Flying home, a decorative airport fern that really 
is a decorative airport fern says, "You smell nice." I don’t 
believe it, but it's still a happy
ending.

A Fairy Tale

When my father was nine years old, his mother said, "Tommy, I'm taking you to the circus for your birthday. Just you and me, and I'll buy you anything you want." The middle child of six, my father thought this was the most incredible, wonderful thing that had ever happened to him—like something out of a fairy tale.

They got in the car, but instead of driving him to the circus, his mother pulled up in front of the hospital and told him to go inside and ask for Dr. So-and-so. After that they'd go to the circus.

He went inside and asked for Dr. So-and-so. A nurse told him to follow her into a room where she closed the door and gave him a shot. My father fell asleep, and some hours later, woke up crying in agony with his tonsils gone. A different nurse got him dressed, and sent him outside where his mother was waiting in the car with the engine running. He couldn't speak on the way home to ask her, "What about the circus?" Days later, when he could, he didn't. They never mentioned it again.

Fifty-eight years later, he tells this story to his wife, his only explanation, when she asks him, "What are you doing home from church so early?"

He'd walked out in the middle of "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God," never to return.

Auld Lang Syne

Dad couldn’t stop crying after Kathy moved him into the facility. 
When she came to visit, he’d cry and say he wanted to die. He said 
the same thing to the nurses. This went on for about a month until 
the doctor put him on an antidepressant especially for Parkinson’s 
patients. The next time Kathy came to visit, she found him in the 
cafeteria, talking to some of the other residents and not crying at 
all—just enjoying his lunch. When it was time for her to go, he 
didn’t cry, but rather calmly escorted her to the car. “Do you like 
this car? My wife and I were thinking about getting one,” he told 
her. “That’s very interesting,” Kathy smiled, “because I am your 
wife.” Dad chuckled, “Is that right?” He squinted over the palm trees 
towards the freeway. So many cars. Busy busy busy. “Well, we’ll see 
you later, then,” he said, and shook her hand firmly, the way he’d 
learned to do at Rotary. What funny new friends he was making.