Featured Poet

Lynne Knight

( Berkeley, California )

poem and audio link


The Cunt Compendium

No doubt some long-lasting inhibition, buried 
in my brain by the nuns, keeps me from
writing poems with the word cunt in them
though I use the word cunt, have screamed
at my lover for using it wrong, dumb cunt,
directed not at me but someone in traffic,

though he doesn't get to say it anymore 
when I'm around, the nun police coming 
out in me, refusing to distinguish between 
the cunt in dumb cunt and that in a direct
fearless look straight from the cunt, 
which happens to be a line from a poem, 

by Sharon Olds, who has written enough
about the cunt to make a compendium,
redeeming legacy for the last century to bestow
after the horrors of Dachau and Kosovo,
Afghanistan and Iran, Watts, Detroit––
oh, there's no shortage, so why am I still

worrying over whether to use cunt 
in a poem, why not show those nuns
the cunt is a holy thing, as Olds proves, 
or at least singularly un-cunt-like, since it has 
vision, can look up and speak for the body 
and the soul, which is more than my cunt 

has ever done, so maybe what I really need 
is to stop writing and start fucking more, 
but only with my lover, because, as Olds 
explains in other poems, sex without love 
can be dispiriting, especially when the cunt's 
a talking soul, metonymy only she would have 

thought of, with years of meditation on the cunt, 
so that in the appendix to The Cunt Compendium, 
there will be an entry on metaphoricity, making 
explicit the implied, including that famed example
the bed of crimson joy in Blake's "The Sick Rose,"
by which he meant the cunt, not necessarily 

Mrs Blake's cunt but the cunt of the world—
the soul, so to speak, which at the beginning
of the next millennium does seem to need
more attention, so I say Amen to cunts, 
Amen to Sharon Olds, Amen to sex 
with love and beds of crimson joy.

Next - Kathryn Rantala


Current Issue - Winter 2006