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Ropes in the Pinkest Room

Michaelsun Knapp

Heavy coil

    of nautical manila


through high pine truss

and shrunken

between              my mother’s raspish teeth—

rewind from this hoisted woman

         in the pinkest room back

to cranes, mist, fish, and papyrus.

She clenches her jaw so.

Her breached                              infant,

toes pointed                                          down,

shod now

in pine                                                  coos

       a lullaby that is always

here, filling with water. Her open         palms

pale, her tongue bitten out.

Garnet deltas

      and grease

   ants            wind

      around               her

   like a list            of names

ground       to braided


Degas, Edgar. Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando. 1879

Pratt, Richard Henry (Capt.). Foundation of Carlisle Indian Industrial School. 1879

Being Coming, a Brutalist Recollection of Six Burned Pieces

Michaelsun Knapp


Two sailors’ hemal inheritance sieve / through

my belly in ebb and charge / of aircraft, cardiac tick

carriers count in the fractions of a camouflaged series

Of maritime recipes sundered, / sundered

a hundred times / to anchor back

A thin blue house—the seawater / and splinters

on the shoreline of a familiar crescent sun / distant and cankerous


Between my lip and gum—this wet

dermal pain can get fucked / epoxying me / to apricots

and emery board, for drying me out / between the next

Pages of a book, a purple sycamore leaf /

and porcelain clover—think of me

as full: moonlit pride / of Eisenhower’s bicycle


Models’ filed 1040, a rowing team / misdiagnosed

as wolverines, smug, and green / carpet filling the cup

Of my palm where misery pools / pale

on the stone railing overlooking


The Seine / and into canoes, into the furrows of ankle

bones snapping / in the sharp air between bridge and cut-flowers /

in cellophane and promise—I slip a teaspoon / in the vase-water


—Sugar gathering / on earthquaked pavement—

they’ll live just / a little longer, if only I could dig this ache

from my ear / the piped instrument dawn breaks


Over / thunderheads and jumper cables

sung into a render / mustered by a mother-


Board running / to close chasms: hazel

diamonds / erupting from the caldera of my molar—a heart beat by da /


Vinci, Modigliani, Haudenosaunee, Montgomery hazmat teams / pouring

turkey feather ashes into Manilla envelopes / to: Sid Hill—who alive can

refit carbon laminae, curled / like an infant’s dozing fist?




Alive by olive oxygen tank and smoke aligning

by the horizon, a tennis ball / in a mastiff ’s jowl:

binoculars and absence / of hemoglobin—six rivets in a ship


For a husband / bound for recollection, reclamation,

exclamation—Lake Michigan / for a sidearm


Hold my hand like a goddamn man, elbows flat—/on the table

where the letters she’s ashamed to have / written, which I am


Decoding for the first time, in blue /misspelled cursive slowly

unravel unkind ribbons—still / I don’t know what to do

with someone who doesn’t like me/ who loves me—by pain’s


Greased shoulder joint, / custody of a folded quilt

in a dust mantle on a zipped-up duffel / which chips my mouth

open for water / like a brick path to the beach


Where robins / are relentlessly skinned from my arms—from deer /

born in the summer heat of knee blood—born in the grout / between epochs


Of ice: the singing mouth / beneath a palm,

the hot throat’s rising stone / of bile and fries and I—leave my hand


On the cabinet door / until I stain it with human oil,

memory / of The Name of the Wind and a heart’s

murmuring ululations bypass / seizures by one four-pronged


Lamp post / in a park afterhours, to another—a steering

wheel’s destroyed speech / centers and I cannot stop

rubbing my eye / against what tree that made this


Paper which changed their names / into evening—wear

the newspaper printed on your wings / and the omitted obituaries


Of my relatives / piled behind museum ropes, posed

with babies and spears / of light—

old on my face at the borders


Of fresh / cartographers tattooing my skin

with skin / how I imagine skin should feel.

After Liz Howard


Picasso, Pablo. The Pigeons and the Peas. 1911.

Unknown. Fire Destroys 2/3 of a New York Museum’s Iroquois Collection. This event

later used to rebut the justification Museums had long used to not return

the stolen indigenous items and bodies in their collections, that museums

could in fact not protect these things than the indigenous tribes themselves,

then leading to the return of many such items and bodies to their tribal

owners from museums and colleges which received Federal funding.

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