ADAM O. DAVIS
Lilies limn on their
way to the dentist’s office where
pulled teeth sing their own
tune to winter and its cadaverous school buses.
This theme may diverge over time.
Similarly, unrelated themes that were once
confluence can now only hope for convergence.
After salting the cinderblock of
friendship we claimed even God and his
sledgehammer could not smash it.
Those were titanic days.
A Law of Inevitability
In our city of tomorrow, machines have malfunctioned
again. So much gone haywire and once more we ask:
why are the things we designed to play chess trying to kill us?
It happens: a quiet dinner, interrupted at the window
by a pair of eyes, red and pulsing. Will you be the homeowner
to welcome the murderous toaster oven inside?
Erstwhile, in a lesser age at the zoo, you lunge
into the monster pit to retrieve a pretty lady’s errant hat.
Soon enough, hirsute with shame, you find yourself
in a Komodo Dragon’s claws, and in its jaws you recollect
your wrongs. Hard as it is, you must acknowledge
the Earth and its axis of which you are no longer part.
Imagine a hunter, his ankle snared in his bear trap.
Even now, at the city limits, ostriches are neck-deep in sand
and the first of many meteorologists lay down before the monsoon.
Who claims catastrophe as a crèche? The guilty are always
alphabetized in time. Calamity, though it could have been
by any hand, it was most likely ours, more likely mine.
Capitals of Tin
What nocturne, what nickel exclamation, what wolfish kind
of worry creeps among the phantom limbs of this razed orchard?
Years ago we sent our many libraries here to repent
for what we had taken, but what was left didn’t want anything back.
The forest floor still a blanket of books. Let’s sit awhile and wait.
The wind has already sent its whips. We read from a favorite:
“You Caught Us in Capitals of Tin.”
In the passage selected, a bulldozer demolishes a shantytown.
Cardboard kept them insulated, but it was
steel and steam that prevailed, courtesy of
In that pluperfect present, thunder falls like a spool
of rusty chain from the sky to foretell the manner of the greedy
tailor’s fate, who called out each teacup by name before breaking it.
In the city presented, we find nothing but mannequins who haunt
their latest fashions with the endless grins of crossing guards.
They created chandeliers with such mouths
and through the plateglass you could imagine
their crystalline chattering in the idle hours of
I remember once while reading this we lost our way in a blizzard.
Only by setting fire to the pages we had already read did we finish the book.
The following morning we stood between embankments watching
women cross in burgundy rugs, their children who weed and hum.
The sun rose as was recommended in those days.
Corridors in the earth filled with the sound of saxifrage.
“Lonely, sturdy work,” she said. “It isn’t
like weeping but it is, not like Catalonia but
is. And yet no bird yet is bright enough to
burnpitfall is our plumage.”
In the book the forgotten dollmaker has privacy, but his hatred
is preserved in the whittled eyes of his handiwork to remind
the protagonist what lonesome hardship was endured. The guilt
is unbelievable. Those who witness this scene can do nothing
to assuage their consciences but build orphanages for veterans
of the aristocracy. Row upon row of wrought iron cots, now cradled
with cobwebs, corrosive as this allegory, this dog-eared myth,
this no-man’s land, this largess, this talkative, electric forest flayed
with rust, scoured by coal. We drink the lissome light that rakes these ruins.
Such work was made to hurt. Their
wreckage so convincing it could only be
salvaged by backbone and shovel.
A sweeter literacy waits in a hidden room until our page number is announced.
There is a page number for each of us. Sometimes we share the same.
Is the sawhorse a pitiful sire to sit stock-still
in his room? Are we really but animals in
pantomimeturncoat and top hat and cane?
The full moon bore its cavities with blind pride, its fangs drooping in a foreign sea. Superstition was an opiate, a welcome fever, a relish of evergreen deceit by the end.
The final pages are missing and we’re left with this:
The Congo blimps arrived and their anchors
fell like anchors. In the crowd, before the
explosion, a potentiometer was quoted as
saying, “In principle, pleasure is pronounced.”
Funny little machine; it knew this better than anyone.