It’s Just Human Nature
“Death. It’s inevitable. There’s a hole you come out of
and there’s a hole you’re gonna go in. . . . Being dead
is a liberating experience.”
— from an interview in 2021 with Gary Betzner,
who faked his own death in 1977
Who knows what compels a man to jump off the edge
of a bridge in the middle of nowhere Arkansas,
wife and kids in the car, engine running,
churning river currents below whispering,
The water will save you. Come on in.
Drugs? Smuggling? Underworld kingpin? Spy?
The mind loves the unknown, the mysterious,
the impossible equation, the riddle left unsolved;
podcast fodder that draws the casual listener in
with what ifs, whodunits, and new clues.
If the world we live in today has shown us anything,
it has shown that we secretly crave catastrophe
when we watch the evening news, that we pray
for the hurricane to exceed expectations and destroy
everything—someone else’s everything.
After years of conjecture, the truth about the man
on the bridge reveals itself to be nothing
more than a hoax, an escape we secretly hoped
would keep our antihero free from 20-to-life behind bars.
We breathe a sigh of relief and let out an inaudible cheer.
But the real truth is this: we all hide secrets
deep beneath flesh, muscle, and bone; secrets
that eventually become too heavy to carry;
secrets that are just heavy enough to pull us under
roiling river water to a grave of silt and mud
where clouds of catfish wait to pick our bloated bodies clean.
May 24, 2022
I used to believe in the spirit animals
and gods that I found in constellations
of stars. But when I look at the sky tonight,
I see only bullet holes piercing the dark,
one for every child we’ve lost,
two for all the children we will keep losing
until constellations bleed together
and the night sky becomes something
other than night, something
horribly empty and horribly full.
Post-it Notes to a Young Poet
based on Post-it Note drawings by Aron Wiesenfeld
1. Post-it Note Drawing #28
Learn to wait. Rain won’t.
The bus isn’t a sure thing.
You are the rain. And the rain is.
2. Post-it Note Drawing #29
Be content to carry the burden
of all the words you plan to write
throughout your life.
3. Post-it Note Drawing #26
Feel free to worship anything.
Prayers are nothing
more than poems waiting to be written.
4. Post-it Note Drawing #25
Never forget: Shadows
have the power to cut
through more than light.
5. Post-it Note Drawing #38
A poem exists in that moment
after you’ve climbed atop the slide
and before you take the plunge.
6. Post-it Note Drawing #20
Learn to accept those moments
when your words become
someone else’s burden to carry.
7. Post-it Note Drawing #37
And learn to accept other moments
when poems slip formless as smoke
from your lips when you speak.
8. Post-it Note Drawing #40
Always remember that smoke carries
some part of you away as it rises up.
Be truthful in everything you say.
9. Post-it Note Drawing #22
If ever you lose the will to write,
burn all these notes and harvest
new words from the ashes.
Kip Knott’s debut collection of stories, Some Birds Nest in Broken Branches, was released earlier this year from Alien Buddha Press. His newest book of poetry, Clean Coal Burn, is available from Kelsay Books. He spends most of his spare time traveling throughout Appalachia and the Midwest taking photographs and searching for lost art treasures. You can follow him on Twitter at @kip_knott and read more of his work at kipknott.com.