Davy Knittle


the space is blank space
          —Wallace Stevens

          I've got a blank space, baby
                    —Taylor Swift




first ten minutes home from the airport:
object: (floor dime) first ten minutes
             at the airport
    (foil ham and cheese). first ten minutes
in the buildup of reading: (building on a
    landslide, Sunset Mesa)
last ten minutes of a day begun
    paralyzed by breakfast:
(sturdy jack
cat pan liners).
    first ten minutes in the flat Shop N Bag
(buttered popcorn). routine talk therapy
             (cat dander, cinnamon gum).
running to have the speed be different
    (river). move if you can.
refuse another year here.
trying during a suburban
bike ride yesterday to distinguish
    the stand-alone towns (1890s)
from the suburbs (1950s, ‘75)
    your objection to the surfburbs
the world’s image of Los Angeles:
             exurbs, plains peppered
endlessly with ranches and awareness
of both mountain and beach.
             eating a burger in a building
shaped like a burger
    eating a burger in an enormous
spinning room.
             walking a block last August
in New Jersey from the Chipotle
             to the beach
             waterfront maximization
             where every built inch nears another
             beachfront for a tiny everyone, the poem,
the coast is what’s left after shedding.
after shedding repeats. picking a passage
    and reading it aloud every day in August:
             LA in the ‘70s
bridges wrapped in barbed wire
             LA in the ‘70s and present:
             oil drilling within its limits
like no city else. within Pennsylvania
    you must be 200 feet from a building
to drill, 500 for fracking, 25 feet from
all buildings on campus to smoke until the
    ban (which put signs near
the front doors of halls explaining
it’s for the
health of you, earth, anyone, the signs
             chest height, where the smokers poles
             used to be
             red text, background blue and green).
     smoking’s still okay inside many
    South Carolina municipalities
             indoor ban
in 78 Texas cities and towns. illegal on
     Hermosa Beach. you can’t smoke in
a city park, in Los Angeles, but you
can drill across the street.
     the home closest
     to the Jefferson Blvd oil site
is three
feet away.
    kids campaign with signs they wrote.
    serious pictures:
    of hydrochloric acid to stimulate a drill site:
    “get your acid out of here”
    or “I live 1,000 feet away”
    “poem” is to say it again more than needing
to say what’s new.
    journal of rereading starting in August.
reading the same passage every day
    a poem making a counter-dissonant noise
    no space or sound ever started blank
    its blankness is a condition of force.
legislated removal
the fear of clearance:
    large scale demolition yields a field
with a hydrant paused for
    a decade’s breath
between developments on Chicago’s
Near North Side.
the space is busy, Wallace–
    in the Wallace and Gromits
    Gromit's the one super into
    the cheese on the moon. fantasy of a conquest
blankness where everything is edible:
    rolling up to new planets and edges
    and eating until you float
“poetry helps people live their lives”
     if those people are
the poet: journal unstarted in August.
then journal restarted, then full.



in some bodies, to
    travel you close your
            eyes, like in that
            Ashbery poem where at
work he just thinks about it
 and goes to Guadalajara

            blinking until his office
window is an old church tower from
    which he can see
    a boy and girl in the shadows
    men “selling hats and swatting flies”

what even is recreation? is it
    expensive? is it okay if I do it?
            does it hurt?
            what if other people
want to do it? where does it happen?
    will it wash off in the bath?

can we bathe here if we ask politely?
            is that recreation?
we’re not saying it, just making that
    face like you can be certain
            we want to be bathed.



I need a walk but there’s
nowhere near most places to
get a malted on foot.
ten of seven of a Thursday.
ten of two. "a glass of papaya
juice and back to work"
when the line's as much
work as anything. he means
work the edifice. as in “let's
leave work early.” working on
the poem in the bathroom,
at the Xerox. in the meeting
chewing and thinking the poem.
upstate with no one and
composing the poem while the
baby sleeps. writing on
conveyances: time based
from San Bruno to
Embarcadero. reading
for conveyance.
like how did people
talk about the somatics
of reading before the
experience of trains?
reading’s blankness becomes
paths or edges. like the blankness
of rushing over tracks, heavy gauge.
paths can be walked on.
edges don’t let it happen to them.
let’s keep being departure. blank
space at the top of the
page. blank on an intake
sheet. baby in a onezie
that says ____ loves me with
“I” painted in and the “s” struck
through. baby boy with sisters
and grandma. “bear naked”
on his onezie and a
pawprint. who’s to say
a baby’s pronouns.
we plan on “they” and
are sure our kids will
get super teased. when
they want to they can
decide to keep on using it
or they can decide to shift.



blank with air in the bouncy castle

crossword clue: deadhead’s hits are LSD.

blanks come after distilling

calibrating the colorimeter

or the blank is vacant of what you want

blank disk has room in it.

the wall is blank of art but still painted

for three weeks our bed was blank and

we recovered. he left a question blank

he’s a chemist so bad at writing.

he’s a poet so makes great risotto.

he has a mynah so loves lemon chess pie.

at the dentist open up

to make your teeth blank.

the great pal of blankness is its test. DUI.

brush for blank breath and kiss me

toast or hot dog with no condiments

the pale white bread blankness

the whiteness plain. is it as easy

to find a salmon wall blank as an ecru

Ellsworth Kelly’s Paris series

white space between black squares

speed negotiating tempo

I thought my pursuit was catch and release

the pool became blank by not swimming.

rest your body ears, rest your body chest

and arms. the hands: the space between

the fingers: the eyes: legs open mouth.

open mind. open heart or its surgery

as you lift your arms, open the hips

by pressing your left leg into the floor.

keeping a book dry in your fleece lined jacket

open your briefcase. open your wallet.

merge lanes: open room on the road.

“nobody can keep open house in a great city.

nobody wants to.” behind these walls, between

them there’s nothing to see. box in the freezer

marked as a private stash to discourage

dieters is supposed to be cookies

but turns out to be roadkill (a bird). she was

abandoned by her mother in childhood

and admitted late in life that she could

no longer open her heart. he had an open

expression and eyes. their sunporch exposed

with pace bunnies, volunteers wearing

actual bunny costumes. carrying a sign that said

2:00 hr pace or others like it. cutting through

openings between joggers of different speeds.

on the final day, the two boys left some

open time they could fill as they saw fit.

let’s leave the poem open so we can

put some words in, or

open up the poems

of other people to extract some procedural

or intuitive subset of words.

composition isn’t ever not experiment

you had been trying to exit this building

by climbing the stairs and you reached the roof

you saw the building you intended to visit

so came down and indicated it to me:

I’ll meet you on the open side of the science center

the one with the dinosaur sculpture. it’s not a

sculpture. it’s a model. just the bones.


Davy Knittle is the author of the chapbooks empathy for cars /
force of july
 (horse less press 2016) and cyclorama (the operating
system 2015). He lives in Philadelphia where he runs the City
Planning Poetics series at the Kelly Writers House and is a reviews
editor for the poetics journal Jacket2. 


Published May 2018.