Etheridge Knight, Valentine

By John MurilloFebruary 14, 2013

Etheridge Knight, Valentine

ETHERIDGE KNIGHT'S POEM “Feeling Fucked Up” is just about the greatest love poem ever written. In language as honest and bone deep as any bluesman’s, Knight gets it just right: What it’s like to be left behind. "Lord, she done gone / packed up and split [...]” No platitudes or pretentions. Just what it is. And what it is, is the pain that comes from loving somebody so bad it breaks you. It’s like Ethelbert Miller once wrote in one of his poems: “There’s nothing philosophical about your woman leaving.”

— John Murillo


Etheridge Knight, “Feeling Fucked Up”


Lord she’s gone done left me done packed / up and split   

and I with no way to make her

come back and everywhere the world is bare

bright bone white    crystal sand glistens

dope death dead dying and jiving drove

her away made her take her laughter and her smiles   

and her softness and her midnight sighs—


Fuck Coltrane and music and clouds drifting in the sky   

fuck the sea and trees and the sky and birds

and alligators and all the animals that roam the earth   

fuck marx and mao fuck fidel and nkrumah and   

democracy and communism fuck smack and pot   

and red ripe tomatoes fuck joseph fuck mary fuck   

god jesus and all the disciples fuck fanon nixon   

and malcolm fuck the revolution fuck freedom fuck   

the whole muthafucking thing

all i want now is my woman back

so my soul can sing

[more Valentine's Day poems]

LARB Contributor


Did you know LARB is a reader-supported nonprofit?

LARB publishes daily without a paywall as part of our mission to make rigorous, incisive, and engaging writing on every aspect of literature, culture, and the arts freely accessible to the public. Help us continue this work with your tax-deductible donation today!