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Academy of American Poets Summer Series. Recorded at the New York Public Library, July 15, 2014.

About this poet

Geffrey Davis is the author of Night Angler, winner of the 2018 James Laughlin Award and forthcoming from BOA Editions in 2019, and Revising the Storm (BOA Editions, 2014), which received the 2013 A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize. His other honors include the Anne Halley Poetry Prize, the Dogwood Prize in Poetry, the Leonard Steinberg Memorial/Academy of American Poets Prize, and the Wabash Prize for Poetry, as well as fellowships from Cave Canem, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Penn State's Institute for the Arts and Humanities. He teaches at the University of Arkansas and The Rainier Writing Workshop and lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

What I Mean When I Say Farmhouse

             Time’s going has ebbed the moorings
to the memories that make this city-kid

             part farm-boy. Until a smell close enough to
the sweet-musk of horse tunes my ears back

             to tree frogs blossoming after a country rain.
I’m back among snakes like slugs wedged

             in ankle-high grass, back inside that small
eternity spent searching for soft ground, straining

             not to spill the water-logged heft of a drowned
barn cat carried in the shallow scoop of a shovel.

             And my brother, large on the stairs, crying.
Each shift in the winds of remembering renders me

             immediate again, like ancient valleys reignited
by more lightning. If only I could settle on

             the porch of waiting and listening,
near the big maple bent by children and heat,

             just before the sweeping threat of summer
thunderstorms. We have our places for

             loneliness—that loaded asking of the body.
my mother stands beside the kitchen window, her hands

             no longer in constant motion. And my father
walks along the tired fence, watching horses

             and clouds roll down against the dying light—
I know he wants to become one or the other.

             I want to jar the tenderness of seasons,
to crawl deep into the moment. I’ve come

             to write less fear into the boy running
through the half-dark. I’ve come for the boy.


From Revising the Storm (BOA Editions, 2014) by Geffrey Davis. Copyright © 2014 by Geffrey Davis. Used with permission of the author.

From Revising the Storm (BOA Editions, 2014) by Geffrey Davis. Copyright © 2014 by Geffrey Davis. Used with permission of the author.

Geffrey Davis

Geffrey Davis

Geffrey Davis is the author of Night Angler, winner of the 2018 James Laughlin Award and forthcoming from BOA Editions in 2019. He lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

by this poet

poem

For

who hands o-
ver their on-
ly begot-

ten any-
thing to this
white-teethed world

if god so
loved      I nev-
er knew him

poem
we won’t tell you where it lies, as in time
we might need the minor intimacy
of that secret. just creatures, heavy with hope
& begging against the grave song inside
our living, we have agreed his death is
the one cold chord we refuse to endure

from the sorry endlessness of the blues.
& if ever we fail to
2
poem

what kind of wound make a man
set his favorite rooster loose

             on a dying hen    what make the man

snap the neck of that twice-broken bird
before his child’s eyes    what make him see

             the bad idea after the fact—what open him

like a storm    what