Ether Sea Projects

About the Book

I Want to Make You Safe

I Want to Make You Safe

Amy King

December 2011 • 87 pp. • $15.00
ISBN: 978-1-933959-23-8
Cover art by Deborah Grant




“’Rarely have the nude and the cooked been so neatly joined’ as in Amy King’s I Want to Make You Safe. If ‘us,’ ‘herons,’ and ‘dust’ rhyme, then these poems rhyme. If that makes you feel safe, it shouldn’t. Amy King’s poems are exuberant, strange, and a bit grotesque. They’re spring-loaded and ready for trouble. Categories collapse. These are the new ‘thunderstorms with Barbie roots.’”

— Rae Armantrout

“Vulnerability, fragility, and anxiety are all flushed out into the open here and addressed with such strong sound and rhythm that we recognize a resilient, defiant strength within them. King puts relentless pressure on forces seemingly beyond our reach and, in bringing them closer, exposes their own vulnerable centers. This is a poetry equally committed to language as a tool with social obligations and language as an art material obligated to reveal its own beauty. King’s language does both magnificently.”

— Cole Swensen

“Amy King’s poems seem to encompass all that we think of as the “natural” world, i.e. sex, sun, love, rotting, hatching, dreaming, especially in the wonderful long poem ‘This Opera of Peace.’ She brings these abstractions to brilliant, jagged life, emerging into rather than out of the busyness of living: ‘Let the walls bear up the angle of the floor,/Let the mice be tragic for all that is caged,/Let time’s contagion mar us/until spoken people lie as particles of wind.'”

— John Ashbery

“I love Amy King’s smile in photos of Amy King, Amy King’s exuberance and looping, bashing panache (flamboyant manner, reckless courage) in the poems of Amy King, I’m going to say Amy King every chance I get in this blurb to make you think “I gotta read me some Amy King,” especially if you’re ‘looking for anything/that will pull the cork, boil the blood/of displeasure,’ as only the poems of Amy King can in the world in which Amy King is King (and Queen).”

— Bob Hicok

“The first poem I read by Amy King was ‘MEN BY THE LIPS OF WOMEN’ and it struck me with a force I had previously felt on encountering masterworks by Lorca and Dylan Thomas. I won’t live long enough to see if her poetry will continue to equal the magnificence of theirs, but the fact that she achieved it once (at least) proves to me it could.”

— Bill Knott




Lidija Dimkovska has made a bomb of my eyes, pulled the pin and
women become the new ramparts from which we watch the old world spin
into you know what gets them: the vacuum,
the tweezers, the archway of Gotham that invites us
to Slovenian cities, Serbian farms, Croatian seasides,
all the way to a little boat that rides the moat
of give me everything with nothing,
the mouth that makes gestures, eyes that eat at digestive sounds,
ears that send words for the censure of players
exhibiting the Christian accent in
beetle-winged chords, beyond which I swallow the air and am stuffed
with American promise of a flat sky’s mouth
opening and surrounding itself in one fat gulp. I sell
thin vine snakes into my lover’s arteries; her knee cannot bear
the pressure of how long I disappear in discussions at the disco
or saccharine flowers, and the way her eyes gambol.
I said to you beneath the glittery ball watching her little legs twist,
“We all know the beyond words, before within, but do words know us?”
Language speaks our very tender selves
into birth but
do words look human
as silhouettes and know their creators, their creatures,
call us ships and light lanterns, bang crosses, call stars, or nail us
to the bow and bow before us
and cry to wish to love and touch us, our blooded sticky brows?
Do they chart their lives to tremble in the cracks of their own imperfect smiles?
The prayers they bear, do they know the way we toy with their topless heads?
My insect flies at your insect with spindly legs whose sticks are chalk
marks traced into the world with karate chops,
dusty hairs that trace the outline of air
in hopes of finding jaw skin, cheek corners, chiseled lips of what gets spoken
and kiss the crevice between insect mouth and mammal eye,
no distance between countries but the sky’s mouth on repeat
enveloping mother and thumb at the heels of a baby thumb,
the coos that sling past and sighs that
melt into pleas of karaoke machines by instinctual women who
tune their oxygen to revolving seats of stardom, the little sexy bleating lambs.


© Litmus Press. All rights reserved.


Amy King

Amy King

Amy King's most recent books are Slaves to Do These Things  and I’m the Man Who Loves You, both from Blazevox. She is currently preparing a book of interviews with the poet, Ron Padgett, and co-edits Esque Magazine with Ana Bozicevic. Amy also works with VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, and teaches English and Creative Writing at SUNY Nassau Community College, as well as conducting workshops at such places as the San Francisco State University Poetry Center, Summer Writing Program @ Naropa University, Slippery Rock University and Rhode Island School of Design.  Her poems have been nominated for numerous Pushcart Prizes, she was a Lambda Literary finalist, and she was the recipient of a MacArthur Scholarship for Poetry. Amy founded and curated, from 2006, the Brooklyn-based reading series, The Stain of Poetry, until 2010.  Readings, reviews and more @

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