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peter davis


More Compact


There was a man who drove a moped
and worked as a bee for a living.
He would buzz around and feel achy and loose.
He annoyed anyone listening, anyone paying
attention. At night he’d come home
and say to his wife, Lord! Working
like this is going to kill me. And she’d say,
Is it really? And he’d say, It sure is.
And she’d say, Or is it? And he’d say, Sure,
sure it is. And she’d say, Or is it?
And he’d say, O, it is. In the morning he’d
fasten his lacquered helmet and watch
for traffic. At work, he tried to be better,
buzzing harder, flying faster, being a tinier
bee than before, more compact.
But nothing good came of it.
It was a long time later, when he’d retired,
that his wife said, Lord! You being home
like this is going to kill me. And he said,
It sure is, and shut the door quietly.



Foreign Object


It was nowhere to be found. Neither
was the woman. She was nowhere. She
was nowhere and we couldn’t find
her. Or it. We were looking earnestly.
I even took it seriously. But there was
nowhere to take it from there. From
there, there was just nothing. So
after a point, we gave up. One person
looked at me and I looked back
and we said, That’s it. So, there it was,
nowhere. I had something in my shoe
and slipped it off like I was removing
a gun from a gun case. Deep inside
the dark area where sunlight couldn’t
fall, I could sense a foreign object, not
as big as a thumb, but no smaller than
a pupil. What pupil? said a voice from
within. Without realizing it, I was
answering, The one you’re not using.
That was all clear enough. It’s true, said
another voice. This voice put my shoe
back on. The next voice I heard was
your voice and it said, What voice?  


A Fourth Man


I’m not the father I’d like to be, said
the man who was taller than the man
he was speaking with. Oh? said the
shorter man. Yes, said the taller man.
I’d like to be a father who is taller.
Oh? said the shorter man, You’re
all ready quite tall. Oh, yes, I know,
said the taller man. But still, something
inside of me longs for something in that
next layer of air, that next foot or so
above me. It’s an odd problem, says
a third man, somewhat fatter than both
men. Oh? says the tallest man. Well,
rather, it’s an odd yearning. It’s like
a cat who falls in love with a balloon.
Truly, sir, said the short man, You are
indeed speaking my language now.
Oh? said the tall man, Do you mean like
how a button, say, in your overcoat
might, say, I don’t know, want to conquer
things and attacks the bread toaster first,
as if the bread toaster were all evil and
the coat button were all good? Or do
you mean like how a short, tall and
fat man might want to confer and yet
they find there is no big umbrella for
them all to fit under? It is a tragic event,
said a fourth man. This man was dressed
in wool and looked a little like an armadillo.
It is my understanding, he began, but
the others were turning toward the sun now.
Each with a new sense of guilt.





Peter Davis' most recent book of poems is TINA. He writes and makes music in Indiana. More info at artisnecessary.com.