Poetry from Jim Davis


Horseback Riding in the Jungle


In the incandescent madness of an organic grocer

a figure shadows over the threshold.

Cloister of red kuri squash in penitent rows.

Pine nuts & brown rice. Swiss chard & white

fish under halos of fluorescent palm trees, bamboo

baskets, sesame crickets. He rubs himself

clean of three days beard & the sincere hope

that he’ll be doing something better

come winter. The next round of Jeopardy is Fun

& Games & 3 Is seem too many. You’ll have to buy

a shrimp tempura taco, spin instead of guessing

consonants in the arid wake of vowels,

couples episode – she claps & spins & hands

her cerulean section labeled Vera Beach & under

her breath she thinks the reason we weren’t good

is three parts sympathy, one piece I wouldn’t eat

well in front of her, unless I was drunk & crushing tacos.

The guy at the sushi counter’s a dead-ringer

for the bald boyfriend of that girl who’s friends with

the thick blonde in Divas, a reality show I’ve seen

more than once & I’m sorry. I want to go.

I’m sorry to have this wayward moustache, limp

like I’m just bucked from an Andean pack horse. Raw

from peeling off the shoes I wouldn’t wear to save

a crocus from a blade for my lapel. Now’s the time to say

I’ve never been to the private institution on the hill.

But there’s a cot & a cup of soup there waiting. White

apron spotted with soy sauce. I’ll sell my leather belt.

Else find me purple, moon-eyed in the morning,

swallowed by the incandescent madness of the jungle.


Giraffe on fire, go to sleep, we’ve happenstance in the morning.


Jim Davis


Minerva in the Curs


Screams muffled by a blueberry scone

and violins of the corner apartment

smashed to ribbons.


Land shimmers fearfully in the eyes of curs

is something a wise man almost said. In France

a Frenchman died


from too much hexachlorophene

in his talc. A series of Clydesdales

froze that winter. He chipped his right rear


lingual molar on the edge of a silver spoon

stuck in his mouth during the seizure that did not

kill him. The wild music


is mostly string, sky, wanton squandering,

unabridged longing played in the rings

of his soup around the spoon


sorting letters into driftword. There was a bird

made of wool. It was warmer than usual

that winter, before the freeze.


Black hair between his teeth. His shoes were wet,

solemn and wise, having hitherto admired

the seething, snarling mouths


of the curs. The radiator groaned. A young boy

tied his shoes in the hallway, sitting on the step,

musing silently at the world’s


depravity, esteeming those who held their tongues.

Be safe, she said, there is evil

in the alleys of Bayonne. The scent of baking


scones drowning in the mettle

of troubled violins. Passing taxis.

His mother stroked his hair when he was sleeping.


Jim Davis


Tonight, Tonight


Minor galaxies where the cats play, tonight. Tonight

chilly winds blow the wreath from my door. Time


is never enough to straighten one’s belief, they say

astrology precedes the stars, they taste the same


as memory, or hope. Left Lane Ends 500 feet –

give me something to wait for. Wait for me, I’m in the shower,


conditioning my hair, which is precious. Sometimes I pray

for the days of the Rincon Giant I used to ride, smashing


pumpkins, ringing doorbells & hiding in the bushes

athwart the way. It took years of observation to understand


my own comfort – which seems normal, tonight. Today

was the greatest hay I’ve ever mown – with a scythe


I painted a cow in a field, though it doesn’t sell

as well as a bull at a fence, staring into the eyes of a red


rooster flared. We don’t know where the cats will go, but

they’ve been here, the litter box is ripe. In the land of 1,000


years, ash doesn’t have to follow ash, it could be dust, or sand,

or a candle burning in the fireplace, in place of actual fire. Tonight


I will drink the lake, nibble crustaceans & alewife, beg to be

forgiven. Sadness alongside the awareness that awareness


follows after, like the moon-shaped blister on the palm I held

above the candle as it snuffed. Aware only after what’s gone is


gone. Jesus wasn’t the only one doing his best

to upend time, rearrange the sand of every brackish body


of water, the hour of its tide, breathe heat back into flame.

& I still believe that I can’t understand. Days of wonder


at icicles skulking from the gutter like a cave, winter’s fragile

cane. Cats play the same game, tonight, belching feathers.


Jim Davis


This Item Withdrawn from the Library

RememberingMay 15, 2007


Blue pen borrowed from Walker Brothers

Pancake House, reading about the ocean of trash

beneath the city. Reading The Big Sleep with sleep

still thick between my eyes. Hand Jive


on the radio, early light cascades through stained

glass, gently deploying its nimble young fingers

like a child with crayons on a placemat, connecting dots

with radiant turquoise, ochre, brilliant cherry red


on the other booths. My parents are the types that drink

2% milk… I mean, who does that? I drank whole last night

watching the Mayweather/De La Hoya fight when the ring

announcer said “Are you ready?” I nodded to no one


& the treadmill this morning said “Are you ready?” I’m not

convinced I’ve felt this way before, morning of the death

of Jerry Falwell, abortionist

of individual rights & liberties. I draw a pattern in the ring


my coffee’s left on a napkin & try to remember 9/11.

Jerry said it’s God’s punishment: divorce rates & the damned

purple Teletubby are poison. MLK said “If you can’t

walk, then crawl. Whatever you do, you have to keep


moving forward.” Jerry said disease is “God’s punishment

for the society that tolerates homosexuals.” I don’t want to be

dramatic, or Mancow myself (that is, proffer goat-getting

nonsense) so I focus on the American Taxi idling outside


in the mentioned young light. I remember drawing pictures

of cabs & cars & fire engine trucks

in crayon, as a boy, under the table, behind the skirt

before dinner was served – drawing pictures of cowboys


& Indians taking birds from the sky – the thrill of an arrow

in the sun’s soft belly. Like crucifixion. Like everything

making perfect sense, for an instant, that child-

like understanding. Like the reverend who refused the kit


after he was bit by a spirit-tame rattlesnake. Black rot crept

up his arm before he died. I leave my pen for the waiter. I roll

honey eucalyptus lozenges in the mouth of my mind & knock

my boots against the rail before entering the cab.


The driver, who’s been waiting, says, “Where to?”

but means, “Are you ready?” I’ve been waiting for you.

Take me to the mountaintop, I said, with a Styrofoam container

& the better half of an apple pancake warming my lap.


In my pack, a book withdrawn from the library,

written in a language I’m inventing, open like a grave

in the shadow of a kingdom burned into a story –

I must be Marlowe’s only knight, tasked with understanding.


Jim Davis


Mistle Thrush


She prefers a private life. Hiding

in the hedgerow, shadow of a Horn-

beam, nest lined with lichen and down.

She prefers her discretions, tucked

under rufous wings, praising mistletoe

berries. For fourteen days she offers

her body to the hatch, till morning touches

fledging beaks. Two things are said

of the mistle thrush: her storm providence,

for one, is uncanny: high upon the Hornbeam,

barking warnings in the face of rushing gale.

And two, she’ll do anything to protect her eggs.

Should you come upon a hidden mistle

thrush, she’ll rise up like the devil and beat

her wings, rise high and dive bomb

until she claims her space. In the corner

booth of Clarke’s Diner, the good gossip

is on a woman from Leeds, who heard a loud

noise while rinsing a colander of currants

in the sink. Two children asleep

in the next room, the woman drew a steak

knife from its block, put it fifteen times

into the intruder’s neck, back, and gut.

Sitting at the kitchen table, reporting her morning

to two tweed-coat detectives, she spooned

oats into the mouth of the child on her lap,

clear-eyed, said what else would you

have liked me to do? as a crew from the local

hospital hoisted the gray-pale intruder

onto a gurney from the lawn and covered him

with a sheet. On a wire beside the mistle

toe tree at the property’s north gate, the

rattling praise of a provident thrush.