Kirk Lee Davis

Introduced by
Jason Bredle

Kirk Lee Davis: I don’t always know if he writes poetry on a regular basis, but as he demonstrates in these poems, he should. Just look at them! They can be sad. They can be funny. They can be introspective. They can be intelligent. And always, always they’re fantastically and fascinatingly bizarre. [JB]



What is what, you ask?
So much is undefined.

               Astronomical is a word that rhymes with gastronomical.
               Language is often general in nature.

               Is is a weak verb. What is an interrogative all by itself.
               The trees are carved of wood. All their planks are tongue-in-groove.
               Ants are just as happy someplace else tonight.

               The moon is reflecting its better half.
               Stars are not the dead brought back as stars.

This is the spread we promised you.
This is eating out.
This devil’s food is not half-bad.

               Dew is beginning to settle on the grass,
                              but if it is okay with you, we suggest staying in the dark, even if it means
                                             we must ask what is it
                                                            before and after every bite.
               The stars are something else.
                              Which is to say, in the end, that we are what we’ve done,
                                             that this drink is strong, 
and we are feeling it.



Lookout Donkey—It’s a shining corporeal supernova!
Mr. And Mrs. Political have got it together again!

Je suis en retard, Mr. Circumflex?
Let the poppy seeds eat their spongeycake!

The Luftwaffe is happy to see me!
Dance the whiteboy!

Okay now, everybody: barrel-roll those hips?
Simon says pin the quail on the pattycake man!

And helloooooo, Misti Applepants!
The Lord is willing and the flesh is Yahoo!

All free! All free!
What robot abdicator could forego?

Get up, Chipdog! Lock the backdoor!
The giant teeth! The torture wagons!

The fun is here to stay.



As if in answer to the revelers’ disbelief, a tiny note drafts up from the floor: The months we spent in the dining room would prove to be the worst we would ever know. Our breaths flowered into coughs. The floor was dust, a trough we rolled into. A man would sit on a corpse’s back just to tie his sweaty shoelaces. The ribcage of the corpse would collapse beneath him. Or it would not. Some people did laugh. Anyway there was no help to be given. Weakness is a thing with which every man, woman, and child must wrestle individually. Or so we had thought. In spite of his missing arm, one man managed to clothe himself in a fallen chandelier. The children to whom he gave bits of glass in which to gaze survive miraculously well.



For more than a year no one laughs, nor even speaks. That portion of our lives we spend out-of-doors would become the story of our lives. The children who lounge atop one another, waiting for us to weaken and break down with a story, grow disappointed. Some throw bits of shattered glass. Some rocks. Some tie shoelaces around our necks while we sleep at our stations.

Which of us survives does not matter. All of us to some degree, perhaps, as fixtures of the landscape. We grow roots—those who remain on long enough—where nothing else can. Each camouflages his memories: history will not single us out without our consent.

And so our sins stay sealed inside us as does blood in a body.



The above poems derive from the manuscript for a composite novel in verse; material from this collection, entitled The Quilts, first appeared in DIAGRAM 5.3.