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An overhand knot
is usually tied at one end
of a long marriage.
When pulled tight
it can be used
as a stopper
to prevent unraveling
or slipping through
one another.

is the knot
at the end
of a thread.

This is the knot
in the middle of a rope,
a marker
for tug-of-war, etc.

This is a foothold
for climbing up
for climbing out.


The square knot is used
to join two pieces
of yourself.
Given the reality
of the physical
this usually means you’re
fucked. This knot
is also used to bind
ambitions together
in a way that’s stylish
and symmetric.

Karen Harryman’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Greensboro Review, Dogwood, Raleigh Review, Atticus Review, Forklift, Alaska Quarterly, Verse Daily, North American Review and The Cortland Review among others. She is the recipient of the 2018 James Hearst Poetry Prize sponsored by North American Review. Her first book, Auto Mechanic’s Daughter, was selected by Chris Abani in 2007 for the Black Goat Poetry Series Imprint at Akashic Books in Brooklyn. She lives with her family in Los Angeles. In her spare time she screens submissions for Los Angeles Review and Alice James Books.

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