Poetry by Kevin Davies

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.

[from The One-Eyed Seller of Garlic]


Yet even as we grope
each other in this small stall another
language dies
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
the blood
rushing to your head
And I have been here before, okay
not here, but here, with others
But never
you mind
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

Contributor: Joshua Clover
Some Futurists (in addition to their bouts of dick-for-brains proto-fascism) seemed to find modernity’s beauty was its metalized mechwar glory, its supercession of the natural. Even beyond such death-cult enthusiasms, there’s a generalized sense that during the nomadic/hunter-gatherer/agricultist eras, circa the age of huts, we led a more organic existence, in harmony with the planet. This is false. We rolled around the globe’s surface, isolate pebbles, mutely subject to its forms. Only in the cities did we finally become organic, developing forms of life out of human possibility. These social forms were vertiginously complex, frequently horrific, inevitably destructive (Marinetti’s right about that), but also charming, surprising, funny, and there is often a subway handy, or a record store or some other sign that people do not totally regret life. This is what I mean by the organically human.Something in language aspires toward this condition; poetry seems like a plausible mode for such an aspiration. This is how I think about Kevin Davies’s poems, for which few if any of the possible metaphors seem even close: weather, the fractured encyclopedia, disobedience. His poetry is not especially metaphorical in the first place; it is more a kind of realism, for a real world that seems all too often not just too awful, but too incalculable and messy to look at in its full unfolding. It’s a package deal: one gets Davies’s lateral, flickering macropoetics, the shockingly mobile mind-motion, alight with the “unembarrassed glee with which he asks to be read polemically” (as the poet Christopher Nealon put it). One gets the exhilaration that accompanies. One gets the nearest approach to descending through the smokescreens and the politely-imposed orders, into the cauldron of the global everything; one gets the flinch and the wry fervor of the impossibly wounded guide. And in return, one gets caught up in the spellbinding mess, the local-global traps, “the fact that we’re ruled by the money that owns the people who have the money that rules itself—.” No one of these things makes Kevin Davies’s poetry particularly of-the-moment, much less future-eyed. As a bunch, though—as a bundle . . .

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 (ca.geocities.com/alterra@rogers.com). Though maybe “full version” is already a mistake, too Edenic, too satisfied. These poems, too, are just something poetry can do—.

—Joshua Clover

 [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

the money,

some extrapolated node

of expansion-contraction gets
                               my money, which I need
for time travel.

from “Lateral Argument”

“Persons exist
as practical ways of speaking about

—Paul Williams

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

Total sodomy.

from “Apocryphon”

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

from “Floater”

                                    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.

The wind’s

                                                     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
with plutonium,
laid a curse
or two. Model


About Mare Cromwell

Referred to as “The Voice of Earth Mother” by a gifted Shoshone elder, Mare Cromwell is a multi-award-winning author, Medicine woman/Lightworker and healer. She has also been told by another gifted elder that her work with Earth Mother is in the prophecies. Her books include: "The Great Mother Bible"; "Messages from Mother.... Earth Mother"; and "If I gave you God’s phone number.... Searching for Spirituality in America". She has studied with Native American teachers for twenty-two years and sat on the World Council for Wisdom Gatherings for three years. Mare leads workshops on our Sacred Planet-Earth Mother, Womb Wisdom and Sacred Silliness and more. She is the visionary and producer of the 1000 Goddesses Gathering in Washington DC. Mare loves to be involved in Ceremony. She is also a former worm herder. She calls Western Maryland home. www.marecromwell.com
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6 Responses to Poetry by Kevin Davies

  1. Thom Nader says:

    Hi…I went to the reading tonight. It was good. It’s very interesting to hear him read. I hadn’t read #31 on paper before hearing him read it, and the way I read it in my head was a bit different. He’s very good at the subtle rhythmic shifts that at times discombobulate and at others seem to relate apparently non-interfaceable thoughts. The weather is pretty nasty, though.

  2. Hi Thom,
    Wish I had gone. So glad that you went. It would have been fantastic to hear him read his extraordinary poetry. It was fun to take some time to look up some of his work on line instead though. So glad that it has stopped raining finally! blessings, mare

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  4. Thom Nader says:

    It was _very_ sparsely attended, really. Besides Mr. Davies and a Hopkins English professor, there were only about 20 other people there. It was a little awkward, as the professor that introduced him compared him to T.S. Eliot and called him “one of the greatest poets writing in English today.” Not that I did not enjoy his reading, but that’s kind of a difficult thing to stand up and read after! I think it’s hard to compare him to Eliot or others, just because the world has changed so much since 50-75 years ago that today’s “The Waste Land” is partly digital!

    Oh, and as a great side-note…I discovered your blog and your poetry! I write as well (I’m an undergrad at Hopkins studying something entirely unrelated to English to appease my parents) but am still in the very very early stages (nothing published or even printed, save one poem [that I’m now rather embarrassed of] in an undergrad lit mag). I just ordered your book (the print version rather), and I’m really looking forward to reading it — I also love that it’s 100% recycled paper. I’m not so much a fan of eBooks, but there is that advantage of saving trees. 100% recycled is a happy balance, I suppose.

  5. Hi Thom,
    Thanks for sharing more about the reading last night. Now I really wish that I had gone. And I’m certain that it was awkward that the professor compared him to T. S. Eliot. That would be a tough set of shoes to fill.

    That’s really wonderful to hear that you also write poetry. I hope that you keep on writing and writing, and find your bliss in doing it, regardless of your parents’ expectations.

    And I did get the book order. Thanks! I’ll send it off tomorrow.

    Blessings to you!

    ps. my background is in environmental work so I had to walk my talk with the book publishing on very green paper. It was only right.

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