Evening exhale of A. Finkl & Sons steel smog, enhancing the North Chicago sunset, and whatever it is
they use to tan the leather at the Webster leather-stretch: Famous Horween tannery smells like a golf course
outhouse, the neighbor’s dead cat blankets – mechanic-me, why can’t I look at a radio and tell the cloud to break
from a web of ostensible unphasing, street- tough? Break, you beautiful storm, snap like an aloe stem, juice me, rid me of that
city-stink, at least push it deeper down. Pequod’s Pizza, where I learned new words on the bathroom wall, contributed too.
Amazed by the electro-gas twisting of halogen tubes, a purple whale balanced on one fin, draught mug frothing in the other – the start of parts becoming parts, symbol soup, lewd collection of letters and limbs crudely sketched. The intersection of boyhood
and everything else, where our waitress perked through her shirt, where I ached out my first pornography on the wall with a felt tip pen.
Tales of the Jazz Age
Ravenous within the bounds of business, the reproach of two gerbils in a cage, how hungry she must have been to eat her mate. How many lives have I ruined?One doubled in size overnight, the other became, by some gift of this universal business, nothing more than a tail and some bones.
Sucking on silver polish in a room full of candles, fickle wicks, a young boy draws the Predator’s meaty tusks and whiskers reads a word like preemptortwo times in the footprint of a page – how selfish the seizure of privacy in the intimate, how he prefers the large intimacy of a party, men in bowties with lampshades
dulling the wan light of waning smiles. Indecency swings from the chandelier. What ostensible parts asunder could be worse than lightning pulled apart from its thunder? Forced to live in the flash of trees falling alone in a forest – who can be sure what’s been stolen won’t tear itself to pieces in the desperate
hope to find itself again? There are far greater times to be had he assumes, sniffing the air for sawdust as a young boy reads Gatsby in the basement, two gerbils squirreling in a cage. Rancid, Black Flag, Operation Ivy, naive to the imminent consumptions: crimson woodchips, lovesickness, small stack of bones.
Driving with Pizzelles
for Michael Earl Craig
I have been known to bring snakes to the revival tent. I’m trying on hats in the handcuff factory / silk scarf stand. I’ll stick this thing square in the Geo Tracker, Megadeath rattling the speakers. There once was a sort of music.
I’m in the lane to go left, steering with my knee, go straight, trying to open a package of lemon zest pizzelles with one hand and my teeth, checking cell reception, spitting gum out the window. I am decorating my future motel room. A fat white Chevrolet
pulls up to pass, cannot, pulls back and signals he’ll put a bullet through the window into my skull behind the ear. Today a man removed his shoes, one by one, threw them at the president. I’m alive, thank heaven, because of the pizzelles, peeled with my teeth
set the pack in the passenger seat. The man in the fat white van has a fat wife waiting back home in a thin kimono she lets slip as she bends to pick the paper from the stoop and the neighbor waves and wipes his mouth and says Hold on, I’ve got something for you–
they trade envelopes over the fence, mislabeled. Free radio brings me news from Guantanamo Bay. A postcard from Del Pabellon’s been through weather, cat-parts in the dumpster behind the gyro stand. We live in a very sordid country.
I am trying on my motel furniture. I’ll rewrite most of the old poems.
Sunday Memo, Re: Joyce
Sliced almonds, dried berries sprinkled over steel- cut oats at the window this morning, smell of thyme from the planter. One small thrush pining over needle placement: thatched sprigs and twigs of poplar, cypress,
hair and twine. The water from the tap is cold the way spring pipes allow. Running over an apple, fingers still numb and thick from sleep. After a series of bird calls he’d like to name but can’t, he wonders: must he inherit
the strangely sound of consonants in Euclid’s use of gnomon, as Joyce suggests in The Sisters or The Dubliners? So too with simonyin the Catechism, captured, in a sense, in the same story? In thrush-like
becomings and shivers of rose bush, he is convinced of his ability to extract meaning from abstract sentences. Venial sun, sincere and abundant, thawing the planter of thyme. Still the winter’s white truculence has done away
with those who came together to escape the cold. Still and all he loved her, in a small way. Shock and awe dissolve to the quiet reverence of a man running his hands over an apple, buffing it across his musty lapel as the tree-line lays blue strips
of shadow like the blade of a sundial announcing itself upon the lawn like the sacraments of Joyce given to those willing to listen. Dun-colored morning, coffee sipped, stirring oats and working a new apple down to its core.
Healthy children will not fear life if their elders have integrity enough not to fear death. - Erik Erikson
I used to know the story of why the grass grows greener on the hill below the abbey.
What’s kept in a box and buried under a child’s trundle bed, secret Hushpuppy shoebox of treasures, becoming the old Guillen Cigar tin of taboos, collected
matchbooks, beer tabs, Pamela Anderson beaming in a windblown sundress, unused prophylactics: a slapdash catalogue of Eriksonian industries, and guilt. The best and worst things are often unforeseen.
There are those we cannot name or will not, swirling in varied pockets of deep night or no-one-looking.
Swinging slowly in the swings beside the elementary school we went to, she told me what she’d do it she were pregnant, and had I heard about the abbey on the hill? Young girls
took their unplanned blessings to the Abess’ commune to be delivered, then buried silently among the gardens, flourishing in emerald green, dappled with the cascade
of lavender foxgloves and bluebells tolling omens of indifference through the valley.
-- Jim Davis is a graduate of Knox College and an MFA candidate at Northwestern University. Jim lives, writes, and paints in Chicago, where he edits North Chicago Review. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Seneca Review, Adirondack Review, The Midwest Quarterly, and Contemporary American Voices, in addition to winning multiple contests, prizes, Editor’s Choice awards, and a recent nomination for the Best of the Net Anthology. His book, Assumption(Unbound Content, 2013) will soon be followed by book two, Earthmover (Unbound Content).
In addition to the arts, Jim is a teacher, coach, and international semi-professional football player.