I am peace unwilling.
I am coconut colored sky & the newly blasphemed.
There’s a bull mastiff sniffing the tailor’s trousers
at the crotch as he penetrates repeatedly, connecting
seams, up & down, up & down till reams of thread
have been lost to the pedal. SJ spoke of the boxer’s
open jaw, the loose mandible hatchet
that hung in victory like a slow flag, like the hard flag
of patriots, those devoted to the revolution. The revolution
has been drawn in sand by the river, by the found rib
of a field-dressed doe: the inspiration of all tainted lakewater.
Back at the cabin, the legend is sewn
in a pillow for the lounge. Out here, people will breathe
whatever air is sweetest. A sleeve of rawhide, a pig’s ear
with tiny prickled hairs, standing in the crisp air
of freshwater tarn, stocked with good-eatin’ pike,
pickled in a smokehouse on a shelf of jars.
Some men mark their progress by what they have overcome.
Abraham, whose willing knife poses at the throat of his son.
Jawbone utensil, liberated, to saw down birches for a blind.
For the hunter, any sacrifice is fine.
Destruction of Another City
This time I am not concerned: I write with a knife
in lieu of pen, now & then
with toothpicks & shards of broken glass, green
from a bottle, white disturbance, dragged across the sidewalk, over the brick
of Harold’s Chicken – red raised messages on skin –
before Betty, Harold’s wife, comes screaming
down the alley with a broom above her head, & that crazy look
that says, don’t forget
my name. Winter is citrus season
y si quieres naranjas, naranjas estan tres dolares por una bolsa a la Carniceria
where breakfast is cheap & easy. I see half of a man
underneath a station wagon on blocks – well, I guess I see
the half of man not underneath, rough blue work-
pants, Dr. Martin’s knockoffs: one flat in the gravel,
one pressed against the way. There’s a road map
hanging from his throat by a chain,
and there’s the ditch digger again, sorting a pile of bricks,
moving them, I assume, so that he might dig a ditch.
There’s Jasmine in the tea. And honeysuckle in the breath of a girl
whose lips I have sewn together. And milk. And the sky is falling
in prisons of crystal: no two pokes are alike.
The sky splinters louder at night. The sound of mother tiger breathing,
dreams played out in the language of natives
holding torches to her face, singing whiskers
o’er & o’er again
until the bricks fall on the man sleeping in the ditch, where free men go to sleep.
Still Life with Basket of Apples
Anything can kill, if pushed hard enough.
The butter knife, in so doing, has never been more alive.
It slides smoothly through the creamy woolen neck
of the crouching lamb. There is something in the air
that vibrates when we speak of it, so simple
as a lamp, flowers in a vase, a split hog hanging.
There is no surprise in its lack of motion,
by now, we expect as much. Less even.
But a simple ecstasy exists in the moment
when sincere observation meets voyeurism.
Though to admit that this is all we ever wanted
sounds final, apocalyptic even. By modern standards
there is ash everywhere: in the pattern of a bundled apron,
on the green pitcher, dusting the candle’s flame,
and a thin layer on the clock without hands.
All of this, splayed naked on a table.
We forget that life continues in the background:
a sensible bureau with many drawers, and on it
a sprinkle of coins, a stack of white envelopes,
and hung firmly on the wall, the window
to a still life with basket of apples.
Outside, prints in the snow on the lawn.
The Advantage of Using Weapons
In the pasture, a boy hangs upside down
from an oak-limb, shaking acorns to see the world.
On paper its fury is striking. When do you
put the pen down and get serious? The pen is fire.
I am no more human than fire is split logs,
is crackling leaves, dried pinecones spitting flame.
I too am warm. I am balanced and ready.
Within the strike, the river bends the forest.
The trees are firm, pliable and I am able
to see far and near in a glace. Be aware
of the pine-fists dropping. Get a little loose, enjoy
the show. You drape a blanket across my knees.
Again with the oak trees. Leave the cabin
and walk among them, understand
that arriving on time is secondary
to depth of movement, to quality of interaction.
Where have the children gone. You ask me
to bathe with the wind whistling through a window crack
that should have been patched years ago.
They were eating in the kitchen when I left them.
Check your mind’s eye: the children in the pasture,
upside down, chewing acorns and drinking the river
from a different angle than the one we taught.
Jim Davis is a graduate of Knox College and now lives, writes, and paints in Chicago. Jim edits the North Chicago Review, and his work has appeared in After Hours, Blue Mesa Review, Poetry Quarterly, Whitefish Review, Chiron Review, and Contemporary American Voices, among others. In 2011, Jim saw two of his poems receive Editor’s Choice Awards, and he will see two of his collections go to print in 2012: Work (unbound content) and Translations (Mi-te Press) www.jimdavispoetry.com.