Here’s a poem by Jennifer L. Knox (A Gringo Like Me, Bloof Books & Great American Prose Poems: Poe to the Present edited by Mr. Lehman, Scribner):
Hot Ass Poem
Hey check out the ass on that guy he’s got a really hot ass I’d like to see his ass naked with his hot naked ass Hey check out her hot ass that chick’s got a hot ass she’s a red hot ass chick I want to touch it Hey check out the ass on that old man that’s one hot old man ass look at his ass his ass his old man ass Hey check out that dog’s ass wow that dog’s ass is hot that dog’s got a hot dog ass I want to squeeze that dog’s hot dog ass like a ball but a hot ball a hot ass ball Hey check out the ass on that bird how’s a bird get a hot ass like that that’s one hot ass bird ass I want to put that bird’s hot ass in my mouth and swish it around and around and around Hey check out the ass on that bike damn that bike’s ass is h-o-t you ever see a bike with an ass that hot I want to put my hot ass on that bike’s hot ass and make a double hot ass bike Hey check out that building it’s got a really really really hot ass and the doorman and the ladies in the information booth and the guy in the elevator got themselves a butt load of hot ass I want to wrap my arms around the whole hot ass building and squeeze myself right through its hot ass and out the other side I want to get me a hot ass piece of all 86 floors of hot hot hot hot ass!
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I know, it’s an obvious choice for a contemporary poem that I’d like to see made into a children’s book!
I can just see that enumerator (Hey) lighting up each page in scarlet 48-point Courier. Without punctuation or line breaks Knox needs that interjection to steer the poem.
What about that voice? Who is the poem’s emcee? A creepy predator or benign hedonist? When I teach this poem I always play Knox reading it, which often changes my students’ opinion. Instead of hearing Frank from Blue Velvet they hear Jennifer L. Knox and they smile and curl up into little balls… and then she gas them! Gulp.
I’ve always heard a Tom Clark/Bolinas vibe. About Clark’s “Whatever Happened to Don Ho” Billy Collins wrote, “… this one dares to be deceptively loose, so druggy, and so American…” (Dark Horses, UIllinois Press).
If Beckett employed the “syntax of weakness” in his prose, I’d call Knox’s the syntax of weak knees, weak knees caused by Baudelairean ecstasies caused by wine, poetry, or (lack of) virtue, as you wish.
But, a children’s book can’t really use that word! Can it? Won’t her publishers gripe?
Her Publishers: Jen, we can’t expose the urchins to 3-letter words. Help us out,
don’t you know, the book biz is in crisis! How about Hot Bottom? Hot tush? Hot Fanny?
Knox: No. It’s Ass or nothin’.
Us (singing): If the kids are united then we’ll never be divided (Sham 69).
Her Publishers: We are moved by your united front and we will allow your
beloved Asses to stay!
Should the narrator be an animal? Yes, it should. Are you thinking sloth? It’s obviously a 3-toed sloth.
Shelley Jackson author/illustrator of another of our family faves, Mimi’s DADA Catifesto (Clarion Books). Every 2 or 3 years I feel the need to inflict, er, delight, yes, delight my students with DADA. Next time I get that itch, I’m including Jackson’s book on my list—it’s that good. Arp! Arp!