cover image Days of Shame & Failure

Days of Shame & Failure

Jennifer L. Knox. Bloof (, $15 trade paper (92p) ISBN 978-0-9965868-0-1

The bizarre continues to reign supreme in this fabulous fourth collection from Knox (The Mystery of the Hidden Driveway). It opens appropriately in the lunatic asylum atmosphere of Let’s Make a Deal, as the revelry of the TV studio is interrupted by a charmingly self-aware, “Hey, what kind of poem is this?” Knox makes subsequent stops in TV land, such as when a human foot is evaluated for its worth at the Antiques Roadshow and a Twilight Zone episode forms the backdrop of an existential lament. Her cast of characters includes a Deinocheirus mirificus dinosaur that is a dead ringer for George Jones, a “volunteer clown” engaging in bestiality in an “earthquake-ravaged apartment,” and Juggalos whose poems “scald our prissy guts.” It’s all very fun, but Knox also brings substance. “Life’s Work” meditates on parallels between the poet’s mentally ill aunt and convicted murderer Robert Stroud. She explores trust and the frailty of human commitments in “I Want to Speak to the Manager,” concluding that “nothing is worse than/ hearing, ‘I can’t promise you that,’ even though it’s always the truth.” Knox boldly confronts her own insignificance, the subtle disintegration of the physical body, and a sense of uncanny mistrust about self-identity—the “mirror as mirage.” The result is a book that’s endlessly entertaining and emotionally stimulating. (Oct.)