A Scarf Is A Sure Sign.


The title poem of my next book I thought was submitted somewhere. I think I was wrong. Now it’s nowhere but here. It starts and ends with a scarf, just in time for this blustery New York City-Brooklyn winter descent — any publishers want it assuming I don’t discover it’s submitted somewhere between now and then?



The history of the scarf is in knots and I don’t know
if that’s a compliment or a fact-finding gesture,
which is often mistaken for the moist point where
things turn damp and snowy and we get worked up over tiny
cold mishaps such as who jumped in front of our toy cars
racing through puddles or why
has the muffin meant for breakfast grown from stale into hard—
I originally meant to throw that sentence away
before retreating to my Guggenheim grotto on the planet, Manhattan ,
but over the connection of orphans,
my birthday hesitates—some stars are just too large
to orbit and prohibit from the subways of free speech just
as it turns out, we inhabit an invalid country, one that once
belonged to another people who never claimed to own it
anyway, I named my dog for the future except
I couldn’t remember what we’d all been calling her by then,
and as such, the bias of time takes over our mental conditions:
I began this day by celebrating the hour of my conception
and a simultaneous abandonment of complete non-existence;
I put on my long black dream and stepped into the world of women
to live among my female brothers who know how to grow
up on ink that occasionally vanishes & candles that eat at the wick;
I understood then not to let the germs that occupy my body
infiltrate my mind because they are programmed to dislodge
the thoughts that set me apart as a matter of defining my essence,
that aspect of personhood that surpasses stuffing wads
of cash into every pocket while pretending nothing’s wrong here;
I put myself into this box of unerased sentences,
I live in a box that lives in a drawer with arrows pointing
out the professor then female then southern parts of me
on initial examination of a body and accompanying biography,
a series of transparent confessions turns most of my lovers off,
so does this type of artificial language, though I adhere
in something of a masculine vein that can be coaxed open but
is more often dilated then narrowed into a permanent voice-style
for example, I like tissue, Kleenex, less so bargain paper, even rougher
are the paper towels that attempt the same job exactly,
which varies in thickness and color depending on income and location,
but maybe I should look at something that’s not as much me
as it gropes towards you: your heart’s been wounded before this time,
a vice grip holds it in place and no super-sized machete will
pry it loose to be used as the birdie in badminton on Sir Newton’s
back lawn, across which the Chinese woman collects cans all night,
each night, overnight, in my neighborhood,
I watch her distance from my third floor window
since she’s the closest I’ve ever come to understanding
a human being in the measure of a scarf that shares its warmth
to the degree of tight to loosely tied around her
open neck and also as a mask for her nose against eternal elements.

Amy King


13 Responses to “A Scarf Is A Sure Sign.”

  1. Didi Says:
    December 9th, 2006 at 1:25 pm eincredible piece of work. I wish I had published it.


  2. Amy King Says:
    December 10th, 2006 at 4:49 pm eThanks, Didi!
  3. Christine Hamm Says:
    December 11th, 2006 at 4:15 pm eLove it! But I’m not a publisher. Sorry I didn’t get to talk to you last night.

    Also, post a picture of the new “dark” Amy!

  4. Amy King Says:
    December 12th, 2006 at 3:04 am eCool, Christine –

    Nice to see you briefly last night, even in quick passing!

    I might go light again …


  5. Mia Mia Mia Mia Mia Mia Mia Mia Mia Mia Says:
    December 13th, 2006 at 1:06 am eI like “I’m the man who loves you” more each time I hear it.
  6. Amy King Says:
    December 13th, 2006 at 2:14 am eThanks, Mia! A publisher just took it – yay~
  7. Jim K. Says:
    December 13th, 2006 at 3:13 am eEnjoyed it, for too many little reasons to say.
    Yes, second time through has still more to say…
    …a good piece of art is a place to visit, is it…not?
    Is there an audio for this? I picture an event where such
    semi-streaming consciousness is read by people
    in groups and twos, to each other. To make the words in
    motion more verb, more way than thing. Lament about
    the difficult sailing of the ‘unerased sentence’ and the
    ‘transparent confession’? Ah, would that people did not panic, and learned
    to see each other as another Universe. Many are afraid of their own
    vastness. Or, to be real, even the vastness around us already.
    But not all of them, so please continue to transmit. You are received.
    I have an open-face balaclava for these days. Like a scarf, it shelters and
    focuses, makes one a comfortable scuba visitor. The rawness is
    thwarted from the neck…observations are steadied..try a scarf today, if you haven’t yet. Take Care.
  8. Amy King Says:
    December 13th, 2006 at 6:47 am eJim, You are, again, very kind and encouraging! I’d love to see your balaclava and hear a poem in it. Or about it. Or with it. All three.

    I’d like to visit the art of the scarf with the balaclava.

  9. Alexander Dickow Says:
    December 14th, 2006 at 4:21 pm eAmy,
    Ditto: this one’s fabulous. Who took it?
    Alex aka guy from Kate/Justin/Janet rdg
  10. Michael (a/k/a swingyoucats) Says:
    December 16th, 2006 at 9:33 am eI delight in the poem’s slow encompassing of details, witticisms, sadness, asides. It envelops the reader just as the scarf that it begins and ends with. Ambitious and greatly realized — its apparent wanderings fall into place and accumulate fleshiness as the reader proceeds. And the unconscious tribute is that this email begins to sound ike the poem — the happy contagion of powerful language. Hail, King Amy!
  11. arne schoenvuur Says:
    December 17th, 2006 at 3:20 pm eYou sure know how to use a crescendo and a diminuendo. The movement in this poem, its dynamics, they make me read this several times in a row. The simple explodes into the complex, then gets drawn back into a kind of pure form of simplicity again. It’s like you gave reality the opportunity to speak up, to be outspoken, and then, with some kind of mysterious smile, return to it’s rather deceiving ordinary form again.

    For me, the strongest thing about your poem is that it makes me want to look out my window to start seeing things, again, and again, and again.

  12. Amy King Says:
    December 17th, 2006 at 5:38 pm eThanks very much for the feedback — it’s great to hear how you each receive the poem~

    My selection for the title poem feels even more certain now …

  13. In Which Nearly Every Human Knows This Desire « This Recording Says:
    March 5th, 2008 at 4:02 pm e[…] Title poem from I’m The Man Who Loves You here. Review of the book here, here and here. […]

Gender Politics Poetry

AMY KING View All →

Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She co-edited with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edits the anthology series, Bettering American Poetry, and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.

2 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Your writing here is very powerful, truthful, compelling, and pushes one to think about the world around them, and not just glance it over. So many of the single sentences stuck out to me, loved the one about the invalid country. I can connect with it this and can’t wait to read more. I loved it. I should be working but…reading this is honestly more important. :) D

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