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About this poet

Jordan Davis was born in New York in 1970. He attended Columbia College, where he studied under Kenneth Koch and was an editor of the college's paper. He graduated with a BA in English in 1992 while continuing to work as Koch's assistant and editor.

Davis is the author of the poetry collections Shell Game (Edge Books, 2018) and Million Poems Journal (Faux, 2003), as well as several chapbooks. He has also 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). 

From 1992 to 1994, Davis served as editor of the Poetry Project Newsletter. In 1995, he became host and curator of the Poetry City reading series. He was also an editor for Teachers and Writers Collaborative for several years, and in 1999, he founded the literary journal The Hat with a Teachers and Writers colleague, Chris Edgar. From 2010 to 2012, he served as the poetry editor of The Nation, and he has written about poetry for PaperSlateThe Village Voice, and Constant Critic, among other publications.

Davis lives and works in New York City.


Bibliography

Shell Game (Edge Books, 2018)
Million Poems Journal (Faux, 2003)

Hero and Leander

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

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

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.

poem
I tell you I will not make any more raids,
The elusive going-elsewhere motherboard 

An electrical sound marking stretches 
Afternoon is carving into the wood of us,

That's our modern way of saline allegory—
To make gods of times of day. I won't 

Cooperate with this love that steals itself 
Into a brand name,
poem
The gnats love the highway dividers, 
the freelance pickup artists love the softness of the hands 
of the women who love their friends
for walking with them laughing at the situation, 
lost people love that I am sitting here looking likely to know, 
I love it when I know, knowledge in the form of radar 
loves