JIM DAVIS is an MFA candidate at Northwestern University, the editor of North Chicago Review, an award-winning poet & painter, a teacher, coach, public speaker, and an international semi-professional football player. jimdavispoetry.com
Every fifteenth finger of Wild Turkey shoots
Time in the heart.
I am 23, no, 24, ridding myself of fish tacos and whiskey and I
Think of you, blindly, eyes wretched shut, think
Of drawing lace curtain across a window’s breath,
You and the smooth brine of ocean air, forgetting.
I use my sleeve to wipe my chin, hail a taxi, spill in and
Throw my phone out the window, where it floats
Up into the blue fading desires of night; pulverized by dawn.
Every finger-thick link in the chain mirrors
Time in the worst way: locked and fated: if only
I were a birthday cake delivered to a prison…
Think of the chisels I could hide!
Of the afterlife, I wonder, the fraternity of old souls –
You never stumble through equivocation –
I struggle with chisels, sugar-frosted and clumsy, I
Throw my hands in the air. Breathe easy. There are moments
Up here in the hill-tower when I’d rather sit than fall.
*note: this poem is part of a project of acrostic variations, wherein the spine of a poem is created through words, not letters, referencing advertisements, idiom, and other poems. In this case (Every time I think of you I Throw Up) is from an overheard subway cell-phone conversation.
The Best Poem I Have Ever Written
Each morning, well, on the mornings I wake
in time to find the dawn beginning to beat
the mild rhythm of early summer, I read and take notes
and read and finally write what is, daily, the best poem I have
ever written. Sound of snoring for the other room. The dog
is lying in a patch of sun and I am tired of writing
about her death before she has died. I will lie
next to her, later, once I’ve written the best poem I have
ever written, she’s the only one whom I can nuzzle up to
with a combination of coffee and morning breath. There is struggle
on days like today, to leave the Canada goose figurine
standing proud beneath the side table – where a photograph
of my grandmother touching the shoulder of her mother
in the only manner those chubby digits would have been able, gently
yellows in its frame – unacknowledged, that goose who was hers,
saved from the vacation home on a Wisconsin lake, before it was sold
and remodeled into, so I’ve been told, something worse – not quite
what we were used to. And it’s possible, of course, that although
winds have spread umbrellas of dandelion seed to the ends of the yard,
that this is not the best poem ever written, but the best poem I have
to tell. Anything that crosses my path in growing warmth is worthy:
the flowering tree surrendering to standard green, thickening
with the season, the shudder of a mockingbird bathing in dust,
and that Canada goose, without whom this would be a poem
like any other – carved of heavy black walnut, hand painted,
every feather featuring the added texture of wood grain,
the downturned tail, the shut beak, and that long, ringable neck –
which belonged to my grandmother. I wonder if she,
in her yellowing pose, was asked to place her tiny hand
upon her mother’s shoulder, or if the human grace within
drew its tender handle on the moment. It’s not the same grace
which led her to serve the public, donate a lifetime
in schools of the blind, or find herself, on similar mornings
writing reflections in the margins of French-impressionist texts.
No, it’s far simpler than that – closer, perhaps, to the impulse
of a man with a chisel and brush, to create. Wonder of a child,
a touch, and the slight upturned corner of a smile just like mine.