Jon Davis



Dawn like a starter's pistol. Goldfinches arcing through mist-scarved air, chattering on the updraft. All the rancorous and squalling days. Implacable days.  Days of needs flashing into our lives. Days spent huffing under the quilts. Startled in the vestibule. Quickened by the chaise.  Feted in the dark. Commended. Championed by the X-backed frogs. The little ones, no bigger than a thumbnail, leaping in the jewelweed, choiring in the elms. A glitter of moments flung against the darkness. Hours slipping past. Carp swirling in the mudhole. Your brother's face changing into a map of the moon. When the katydids come they come. When the katydids sound their cacophony, their symphony, their endless creaking in the tall grass. And the moths around the porch light, those dizzied scooters, raveled and powdered. Who knew they were a metaphor? I would like to speak earnestly on the occasion of. On the cusp of the nothing we were always destined for. What did we do with our days? Ideas following us like a cloud of gnats. Everything filed under "Wisdom, unburdened of." Words placed end-to-end and fiddled with. A puddle of bones and flesh. Can you make them stand up and walk? Can you breathe into them and make them breathe? In the dark, under the imaginary creatures we invented? We ran and laughed until we were tired. We slept and dreamed. Animals accompanied us everywhere. Snakes in the rockpile, salamanders swaggering on tender legs, tanagers in the mottled sycamore. Orioles slipping into their silver purses. The lichened nest of a hummingbird, two eggs like pale peas. Barn owl, imperial ghost of the hayloft, visit me now, haunting and haunted. Lecture me again on beauty. The waxen impossible plumage, the swiveling head. The fearsome glimpse. Eyes that let nothing in. Giving everything away by keeping it secret. Austere in the scumble and wash. Still center of everything that moves.







In the middle of writing my forthcoming book, Reply All, I decided, inspired by Federico Garcia Lorca, to call all of my poems "Last Words" as a reminder to address important subjects in the face of the abyss. Like that whole sequence, "Lingual & Fraught" was originally called "Last Words."