There is a poet whom I really wanted to see tonight at Johns Hopkins University. Kevin Davies is reading. His performance is free to the public and starts in 9 minutes. And I won’t be making it. It’s raining outside, a dismal day of incessant rain that actually makes me feel cosy inside myself, inside my house in a sweet way.
And my cousin has invited me to her house for a neighborhood gathering this same evening. That starts in now 7 minutes. And the good news is that you don’t need to be extremely punctual for neighborhood gatherings. I might slide in there by 7 pm, with my potluck dish in hand (spinach salad) and it will be all just fine.
But I really would rather not go anywhere other than sit here and read poetry and perhaps even throw some words down too. Let the muse frolic and play. It’s one of those nights and my brain is in one of those places.
So I might actually do a little more internet poking and read some more of Kevin Davies poetry and slide into my cousin’s home closer to 7:30pm now. One must feed the muse, you know. It is only right.
So Kevin Davies’ most recent book is called The Golden Age of Paraphernalia. I would like to read it tonight. Alas, I don’t have it.
Yet even as we grope
each other in this small stall another
And miniaturization proceeds
“apace”—let me show you what I mean
We don’t need
names we have gadgets
And a good fifteen minutes
before anyone comments on our absence
Relax I’ve got you—that’s just
rushing to your head
And I have been here before, okay
not here, but here, with others
Lack of comfortable space
is the whole point
I want you to strangle me and drag
me to a river
That leads ultimately to the open sea
And to sing
at the launch of the subsequent bookwork
The aggregating breadth of Davies’s world view is a rebuke to the narrow avenues of poetic communities. For some he’s closely watched, critically admired, signal; for many, his resolutely small-press and sporadic publications have an unfamiliar address. The poems themselves are long— pages and pages—and part of longer structures still; excerpting them is a kind of harm. This seems okay: as the poems register unfailingly, harm comes both to life enmeshed in big structures, and from trying to opt out. Full versions of these works can be found, unsurprisingly, floating out there in the semi-visible system: at UbuWeb (ubu.com), at Alterran Poetry Assemblage (firstname.lastname@example.org). Though maybe “full version” is already a mistake, too Edenic, too satisfied. These poems, too, are just something poetry can do—.
[note: formatting of poems below is not exact. Darn WordPress.]
[Untitled]What gets me is
the robots are doing
my job, but I don’t get
some extrapolated node
of expansion-contraction gets
my money, which I need
for time travel.
from “Lateral Argument”
as practical ways of speaking about
They awoke in a bookless world studded with lean-
to performance artists interacting with electricity.
This must be the place. Evicted from elsewhere, here
at last not rest but an apprenticeship in container
technology. A kind of music that, though apparently stopping,
starting, stopping, more specifically never ends, thus
displaying as virtue its greatest flaw. Successfully,
irritatingly. Who here has access to liquor? The youth
of this centreless void gave voice to the sensual trepidations of
the nearby chopping block. This transparency at once
a local pride and a fulcrum of alertness. Yes. They
then proceeded lengthwise down the postracial boulevard,
exhausted but coy, travel plans successfully forgotten.
Perhaps they would stay awhile. But
no . . . What’s that humming
sound . . .
. . . Hello . . .
The so-called outside
The newfangled windowpanes across
the street, emptied into deltas of greeting.
The burnt marshmallow stuck to your cheek
Like a weak rhyme, a new genre of pottery, bolt
upright in the midst of a daydream.
So that we all might be blessed with the darker gifts
of broken car, tank top, a castle
full of water-logged documents.
from “Karnal Bunt”
I love the look of humans when they sit or stand still and when
they move around
I love the look of them looking back and barking arbitrary
commands, which I obey
I love the fragrance of the grouping of incommensurate ego
fantasias in the drone of winter
I love the fuss of the not-quite of submission techniques
I love to be an international unit in the measure of the loading of
the fissures in the communal membrane into silos on a prairie
in a basement by a government of souls in trouble at a party
with martinis for a long time
Memories of overdevelopment
Words in the process of becoming cash crops. Verbal
exhaustion trying to stand in for millennia of solar-eclipse data hoarded by
the priestly caste. Wards of the statement—hunkering, predicated.
Uncles and aunts driving away to charges later reduced to booze- induced
melancholy. Port Babel, Ether Ridge, Extreme Junction,
Jackmormon Creek, Chumleyville, Them-Birds.
The kind of tough, stringy, and foul-tasting duck a sea gull
makes at table in the postwar DP forties, learning rope
Actually buying soap at the drug bodega
The posthumous jukebox of passion plays what it wants
what I’ve watched. • I AM THE
GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEM,
ME • In
the older days a big part of the job
involved speeding up and slowing down
the machine in order to approximate
reality, but that is
no longer necessary.
an unsolved problem in the disciplinary literature
from “Karnal Bunt”
These cheesy little hypertexts
are going to get better.
I don’t know
how much better, but we’ll see.
from “Lateral Argument”
When a friend is leaving town, go with her and drink.
When he arrives where he is going, keep a photo
on the fridge.
A great flapping bird, looking for something to eat in Brooklyn.
I’ve lately been rereading my schoolgirl essays in Latin
and there is much I could learn from my younger self
if I were the sort of person interested in learning.
I debate the merits of cremation and taxidermy
while in Rome, New York, burning, doing as the Rome,
New Yorkers do. Slave to my dick
was a song of that spring. Later, whether Julie
should be executed as a traitor. Gerry,
the consensus: stooge. Ann the anarcho-Lenin, as if.
But at least they can look back from old age and think
yeah goddamn it, we blew something up, we blew
something up, didn’t we? The rest of us, what did we blow up?
A few hairdryers in domestic fits, correct?
Not really the same thing. Possibly once or twice
sabotaged a Zamboni or contaminated an enemy
laid a curse
or two. Model