poem index

About this poet

Born in New York in 1970, Jordan Davis was recognized for his editing and criticism as early as high school, winning prizes from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. Davis went on to attend Columbia College where he studied under Kenneth Koch and was an editor of the college's paper. He graduated with a B.A. in English in 1992, while continuing to work as Koch's assistant and editor.

Davis served as editor of the Poetry Project Newsletter from 1992 to 1994. Davis was also an editor for Teachers and Writers Collaborative for several years. In 1995, he became host and curator of the Poetry City reading series and in 1999, he founded the literary journal The Hat with his Teachers and Writers coworker Chris Edgar.

In 2003, Davis released his first collection of poetry, Million Poems Journal (Faux, 2003). Since then he has coedited several collections of poetry, including Free Radicals: American Poets Before Their First Books (Subpress, 2004) and The Collected Poems of Kenneth Koch (Knopf, 2005). Davis has reviewed poetry for both Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews, and has written about poetry for Paper, Slate, and The Village Voice.

Davis currently writes about poetry for The Constant Critic and The Nation. He is married to the writer Alison Stine. He divides his time between New York and Ohio.

Hero and Leander

Jordan Davis
Yet in that silver age
A pale boy
The sea god’s love
Came toward a fine and flashing
Monotony; and steam came
From him as from a mechanism
And he came to disregard
The magnetic seasons
As teachers hurry under a tent the heat
Coming toward him even as
He sinks himself further
As if to please again the boring god
It is he! O Leander
Do you come back now,
Or are you just running from
Some sunny girl, for he could see
Now no storm pulling
The waves up to be clipped
As a barber will hold a lock
Then let it fall back shorter
And if no storm then what?
No, hello, I’m just ducking
The waves, we have the day
From school and some went down
To ship but the sun
Was so pestering
I couldn’t think to be on decks
And all this talk the god
Had become the water talking
And looked at his body
Skinny as a flame in smoke
And was around it true as a level
But Leander felt funny and said
I think I hear the motor
I better go and the sea god
Back again to swimming thing thought
Why am I so humble always with this
Slipping thing I’m not a forcing god
Thank goodness think of the menace
To these seas a brake of salt ice
Would be
			On the surface
Leander bobbed a true diver
Tearing in the sun and saw
On shore peeling a giant orange
A girl standing looking out at
The great difference of the waves
Burning in the breakers saw her look
As three black lines on his brow and he
Forgetting the sea-god
Did tricks in the shallows
Which the girl, closer not a girl!
A woman sad and now
Not annoyed not amused
Leander, seeing, dripping as he came
Onto rocky land said May I
Have a piece of that
It was pomegranate and she
Smiled red and said
Here and he was in intense pain
And could not move and she, hearing
They had gathered all the mallows
They wanted for the recital,
Said goodbye and turned away.
I cannot move he said vaguely
Through burning lock of muscle
In his back but she was gone
On a school bus of students
Playing games of prophecy
With paper. O Leander
Came a voice. Leander you will
Burn out there!

Poem from Million Poem Journal, reprinted with permission of Faux Press Books

Jordan Davis

Jordan Davis

Born in 1970, Jordan Davis is the author of a poetry collection and many reviews and essays about poetry

by this poet

poem
The savor of mango is unlike
Toothsome papay. My son takes
My hand and brings me
Into the classroom; Fluffy
Is absent and unremarked-upon

And in his place, two butterflies
Use tentatively in a sentence.
One, he explains, is a boy and
The other one lays the eggs,
I counted the dots, is a girl.

Why do boys not
poem
Having a child changes you. For example,
A salmon's face extends forward, a giant underbite
Emerging, and then there's the matter
Hanging off their sides. I am proud to be
An American. Also, I'm proud to be a Protestant,
And wasn't whiteness a smart choice.

When people complain to me about Spielberg's
poem

My father taught me how to play the beer bottle. It was Schlitz, and I was three or four. "You tuck your lower lip under, then blow air over the top of the bottle." I produced a tone, and we laughed. He paused. "You can make a different sound if there's less in the bottle," he said, motioning for me to take a sip.