Tragedy, Ecstasy, Doom, and so on

Kelsay Books / ISBN: 978-1952326-18-9 / $18.50

These poems are a measuring of hope and dread, a collection that shows us the beautiful, bright photograph then places it next to its dark, disturbing photographic negative. In these poems, we witness, for example, Salvador Dali going to work in an office. The discourse issuing from these efforts is redemptive, even if it doesn’t come in the form of answers. These poems intrigue with their questioning of the human condition, a state somewhere between spirit and stranger. As the poems move easily into Mark Rothko’s art and life, the discourse continues but in the form of colors, of juxtapositions, guiding our understanding of them from canvas to soul. In sum, the poems stay true to exploring an initial, profound insight: The other man that I am.

                         - Alberto Rios

Kip Knott's first full-length collection of poetry is twenty years overdue, years during which I've remained steadfast in my admiration of his unique and provocative verses. Good news: Tragedy, Ecstasy, Doom, and so on has arrived, and it's right on time after all. These poems are mature, taut, inquisitive, masculine in the best sense, intersections of riddle and wisdom, regret and gratitude. For all the liveliness of this book, there's a stillness here that surprises, a somberness in its landscapes, the soundings of a life fully and thoughtfully lived that compels our attention. Who knew that ecstasy could be so dire, while doom so much fun? More good news: a whole new generation of poetry lovers can now find out.

                        - Gaylord Brewer

Read a full review by Steve Abbott in The Ekphrastic Review.

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Clean Coal Burn

Kelsay Books / Forthcoming 2021   

What Two Bits Could Buy

               for Patsy Cline, 1932-1963


Your life ended not long after mine began.

I can’t remember ever hearing you before

I turned twelve, twelve years after your death,

when your voice wept, dispossessed


from an outdated and battered jukebox

in the corner of a miners’ dive bar in

Corning, Ohio, a carcass of a coal town torn in half

by the yellow gash of Sunday Creek.


It only cost two bits to release you

from the Wurlitzer coffin that some part of me

believed held some part of you

the way the altar of St. Bernard’s held its holy relic.


My grandmother, the bartender every miner loved

to call “Babe,” tossed me the special red quarter

she plucked from the back of the till.

I listened as the coin rattled down its metal shaft,


clicking and clinking like a round of shot glasses

struck on the bar after another cancerous shift.

It took a moment for the first high, lonesome violin

notes to wheeze between a cacophony of hacking


black lung coughs. But then, like a cry

rising above a crowd of smoke ghosts,

those permanent shadows each man dragged

with him from the darkest corridors of the earth,


your voice carried me off to a better place

where there were only “Sweet dreams of you.”

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