Jennifer L. Knox
A Polite Request
“They answered!” Stan yipped and tilted the phone so I could hear: crackly static (we knew it would be). We waited ages for the beep, then Stan recited the script, calm as balm, all blame and rage scoured from his voice: “By sheer luck we are not ones underground, but we hear the tunneling. We put the money in a bag made of yodels like you like it and gave it to the eagle on top of our flagpole. It’s in his talons till you need it. Happy birthday,” Stan said, then gingerly closed the flip phone in a fluid Kung Fu move. Once he’d have slapped it shut like a castanet, but now—who knew how long anything needed to last. “You’re so good at that—I’d just cry,” I said, ashamed. “Don’t you dare,” Stan warned, so, of course, I did, so the phone started ringing, then the doorbell: more phone numbers—my hands, stained clown red from the China marker nub I’d been scrawling them on walls with. Then I saw the black limousine go by again—still circling for days now. So close I could touch it. The tires, at least. “Do we still have that box of carpet tacks?”
Jennifer L. Knox is the author of the poetry collections Days of Shame and Failure, The Mystery of the Hidden Driveway, Drunk by Noon, and A Gringo Like Me, all on Bloof Books. Her poems have appeared four times in the Best American Poetry series as well as in the anthologies Great American Prose Poems, From Poe to Present, and Best American Erotic Poems. Her work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, the New Yorker and American Poetry Review. Jennifer received her B.A. from the University of Iowa and her M.F.A. in poetry from New York University. She has taught creative writing at Hunter College and New York University and lectured at colleges and universities across the country. Visit jenniferlknox.com.