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Jordan Davis

JORDAN DAVIS'S poetry is alert, startling, discerning, and strange. He is one of the young poets who make me confident that poetry is busily being born. He is a learned poet, in the sense that he has been in love with the poetry of the Metaphysicals and of the more recent past, and poetry of many languages, and his poetry reflects the fact that he is still more intrigued by adventures than linguistic museology. He has not been satisfied by reductiveness, and his poetry is full of stories, gossip, charms, observations, art criticism, and mordant innuendoes. There is an unexaggerated quality throughout this work, which makes it seem healthy and wise, like the light and repose in certain paintings of Fairfield Porter. While young poets are often sentimental or chiliastic, this is a poetry of balance and buoyancy, where the everyday drifts into exaltation.

--David Shapiro


This page is sponsored in part by Utah State University Press and the May Swenson Poetry Award Series.

 

When I Was The Subject

How we or anything exists
Is cranky extravagance
Forthright New Year's hibiscus chaos

O note card on the floor
I can't speak to you
Like someone at the end
Of a nine foot wall
But if you have a birthday
I will sing to you

Flashing christmas lights
Is it your yes that's many-colored
Or like the tree in silhouette
Is it no

I am the love of a pullet
For the hoseman
Which shines whiter
Than a new refrigerator

I am the color
Of the sweater the woman
For whom I have many
Little feelings wears
My eyes are that color

Candle squiggle on ceiling
Copper connects its way
Across the room
As a woman whose
Neckline is cut to show
A stone necklace
Lifts the shotglass
Candle to light
Her smoke

Look deep into the street
A glass of glass

The cat you have
To let come to you

The arc of the moral
Universe bends toward
Who plainly say
Recline on pillows

Warm day I'm surrounded
By what beauty wants
Catfish in restaurants
Followed by old meanings

The song of plaid paper
And plastic around roses
Is step all the way in

Kid screams her head
Can't take my eyes off of you
Trumpet solo in Times Square

She isn't anyone I know
Bystander camera crew
Looking for the mole of the week

Governance all afternoon
And context in the evening
Set their tuning forks
On a sleeping head

Graffiti on shoulder strap
Imagine being that far gone
They could actually tag you

For a dollar I'll
Tell you a poem:
Bad career move

Coconut oil out of control
O no! Symmetry

Sleepy woman at a payphone
My love never mind my love
It's your love that means
She going to make it? Reeling
Counting her change

New poem
Come up from
The earth
The south
The minors

O it performs functions
Like a pocket knife

What are the questions
Anything asks

Education or sex?
Laundry or painting?
Sadness or weight gain?
Computers or square feet?
Laughter or knowing looks?
Quasars or piñatas?
Carbon-dating or bichon frises?
Restocking the wilds or hovering
  overhead?
Companion volume or appellate court?
Deep or homely?
Quiet or common?
Reply or sonogram?
Wanton abandonment or annuities?
Justice or victory?
Tragedy or periplum?
Arabic or cellular?

What funny thing
Has the caffeine
Persuaded you
I need to see?

Can't keep it in your wallet
Can't hide it in your shoe
Beauty is asleep

Star Trek is Burger King

If I had forty youths to give this art
Each of them youngly angry and
  amused
I'd relegate the sidewalk sidelong crush
To one or two and with the balance
  make
Plays, movies, ways that words move
  people, light

Word to word grant us
Match-sulfur
Then tears in the eyes

In constant danger of eye-contact
Not that anything you want is a rockstar

Small stuff or clue?

Remember liking the word
  constellation
In a poem? And I was a stranger to you

The keys receipts candy wrappers in
The unwashed clothes of the dead

Whose poem was that?

Those people
Locked in game

Would I could need
What I was thinking
Like I need a thing

O so-what, do you ease
An anxious smile into its case

So-what zipper on a tight lace boot
So-what blue jeans on old people
The crowds massed
For the celebration
Of the year of so-what

To so-what I send my resume
I show up for the interview
In my interview suit
Am casual but poised
And so-what and I
Get along I get
The job!

O so-what
We go walking
Where the oxygen flows
And nothing knows
Either of us

You think I smile
Because anybody
Notices but
Laughter as insulation
Is all this life
Sparkles
To the order of
We like you

I am in love
Does not function as
An emotional declarative
The way
So I was getting ready
For my father to die
Does

This doesn't have to do
With truth value or even
Meaningful probability

Whether true or false
So I was getting ready
Is unarguable

Anxiety like love a state
Of looking for an object

I'm so far from the border
Of being in love and not
Being in love

Lightning is my cello of
The person-place continuum

The ice sheet standing near
My head is noticed

The things I notice when
I want to write are
Not the things I think about
Or feel they are what
Gets sucked through the
Hole I punch in time

When I see a man sitting
On a stool in front of bricks
I know I am the firing squad

The tough guy voice
I parodied to get it
To take me over

Doorways
Grinning as stupidly as me

And when the energy has
Almost finished going
Through I can work
Out a few sentences

Without the sharp
Points sticking out

 

Originally published in the Summer 1999 issue of Boston Review



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