After the rain we ran in the backwoods. Seven
or so in the cold air burning.
We put planks of wood over the wide
the wet clay banks – Under
we hurled grenades
of magnolia-fruit, gripped wooden
rifles, and when hit held ourselves
over the damaged skin, kneeling. Mouth
gaped open. Mouth
of the river widened. As one boy took each body,
crossed the left arm over the dirty right,
another counted the dead
and the wounded, made mass graves
where we could bury this new warfare.
We threw the dark dirt. We held them.
Our foreheads soaked in sweat and rainwater,
we blew milkweed into their faces.
‘97 GMC Jimmy Plays Jazz, Empty Cul-De-Sac
we lay back
on the black bed
of a parking lot,
exiled from the usual
instruments of firsts
— cast into the lamp light
of a town that beat
boys like us into a
dense & hungered fog.
our backs sticky
on cheap car leather,
our mouths played
like little trumpets,
jazz spurts trading
the head before the bridge,
his turn, then mine,
& then his, & then his,
a ringing, a sputtering, a cymbal,
before the song breaks.
It’s true I was touched before him.
(The empty park. A stale-cold hand.)
Though don’t be scared, reader.
Don’t be scared: Because this night, this boy,
I found calm
in his wide palm,
serious & firm
on my back.
A fossil fern
locked into stone.
Hold with me
when whatever needs shedding, sheds,
just as the silk
robes I can’t afford
absurd & humming in
his wet safety,
leaning me back
into the glass
pond of pleasure.
Jack Davis is a writer, teacher, and poet. He is the recipient of teaching and writing fellowships through Princeton University and most recently a Fulbright Scholarship. In 2020 he was recognized by the United Nations for his poetry installation Sauti, which featured poems from over twenty countries and seven languages. His work is published in Alien Magazine, Pinhole Poetry, and forthcoming in The Adroit Journal. He is an MFA Candidate at New York University, where he teaches undergraduate fiction and poetry workshops. He lives in New York City and owns no cats. Website: https://www.jackcolewords.com/