Cover painting by Jessica Colasanto / www.straittalk.com
"How everything / shifts . . . to allow its opposite. . . ." These words relate the essential focus of Lynne Knight's powerful and long-awaited second collection. That betrayals are common is a given. That they are painful is another. Still another, that we must endure them. The Book of Common Betrayals offers up thirty-eight articulate poems that trace in concise and memorable language the nature of betrayal in all its manifestations. Concerned ultimately with the fragility of the human heart, the poet examines the ways constancy turns to transgression, love to doubt, even how despair can be mistaken for violence. In short, she takes on betrayals of body, mind, and soul. In poems fueled by a combination of passion and panic, Knight disarms us only to expand our vision. She turns the inner world outward and exposes what we've kept secret " sometimes even from ourselves. " moved again and again by these poems that seem to know my heart and to understand its pleasures, its flaws, and its weaknesses. These are driven poems uttered in the heart's vernacular.
—Andrea Hollander Budy, author of House Without a Dreamer and The Other Life
This is a fine, wise book that deserves attention from a variety of readers. In it, Lynne Knight concerns herself with the metaphysical, and with how the metaphysical is betrayed "treacherously, and made seen" through our most intimate attachments and imagination. Her poems explore the generosity and violence in our natures, and they demonstrate how language betrays both what we mean and who we are. We turn way from this study of ourselves awed, a bit sad, and changed.
Forrest Hamer author of Call and Response and Middle Ear
The Unlimited Mood
for Forrest Hamer
Sleepless late one night I examined the infinitive:
to place. What would be the agent?
Hands, memory: I tried to place him.
After a while, I remembered.
He was the one in love with bones.
In love with water over bones that had been thrown
from ships like scraps from meals,
like slops, like next to nothing
though he knew the record of that suffering
would make its way along the seafloor
to the coast, ooze up through heavy sand,
flood through reed and marsh grass,
spread through earth, disturb the foot of someone walking_
not stones but a calling, heaved against the insole_
until he lay his whole length down on sunwarmed grass,
pressing his good ear to cries and moans
blue at their center, blue in their nimbus,
blue as the water they had sunk through.
He would lie listening to these blues
and know to place their origin
in salty waters rising from the heart,
ancestral tears he would not know
what to do with until he thought to sing,
and, singing, heard the dead
instruct him where to place his grief: Here.
Where sorrows wash across your face
© 2002 Lynne Knight
first published in The Iowa Review