Carol V. Davis won the 2007 T.S. Eliot Prize for Into the Arms of Pushkin: Poems of St. Petersburg (Truman State University Press, 2007). She is the author of It's Time to Talk About..., (1997), published in a bilingual edition in Russia and two chapbooks, Letters From Prague (1991) and The Violin Teacher (2005). She was twice a Fulbright scholar in Russia.  Her poetry has been published in such journals as Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Nimrod, Crab Orchard Review and in anthologies, including New Poets of the American West (2010), Landaria: Women, Wash and Words, (2009), Nice Jewish Girls, (1996). Ms. Davis has had work read on Radio Russia and on NPR radio, as well as on the program Sound and Spirit and she read at the Library of Congress in Nov. 2010. Davis was the 2008 poet-in-residence at Olivet College, MI and she currently teaches at Santa Monica College. Her new book, Eating Crow, will be published by TSUP in 2012.

Eating Crow

                                Sing a song of sixpence a pocket full of rye,
                                Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
                                When the pie was opened the birds began to sing

On tv the Bizarre Foods host leans over
a rickety market stall in Bangkok.
He picks at the toothpick bones of a sparrow,
licks his lips and reaches for a second  bird,
its skeleton the size of his palm.

A cook to a medieval knight would place
live birds inside a pastry crust.
A great joke, though the real pie was served
after the birds had been released.

Is that how we got the four and twenty blackbirds
whose heads pop through a blanket of pie crust?
Beaks wide to sing their hearts out,
though they are cooked through and through.

In the Middle Ages pea-fowl was served
on any table worth its weight.
The birds decked out in a mantle of herbs,
green as a king’s velvet collar.

The steer’s head displayed like
crown jewels on the butcher table,
put me off meat that year in Russia,
but no more than the intestines
ladled into a pond of broth.

I may succumb to the occasional hamburger.
Still I wanted to rescue those little birds
from their pinched cages before
they met their deaths in a bath of oil.
To take the fingers of the food show host,
smack them away, before he licked them clean.

Published in Ploughshares - Spring 2010, vol. 36, no. 1


for Antoinette

Calm down.
That the moon has always hung
by a thread expecting to be snipped
is a given. Your daughter
will call when she is ready.
There is no need for hysteria.
A beach ball held under water
will always shoot into the crackling air.
No one can stop it.
While you wait, feed the plumeria,
even if its awning is bolted shut for the winter.
You’ve got to believe in something.
You could do worse than to have faith
in the unfurling of petals.

Cider Press Review, vol. 11, 2010


Nothing can brighten this laundromat,
not the fake ivy strung like a clothesline
across its middle, washers on one side,
dryers on the other, nor the framed
jigsaw puzzles under smeared glass.
Germanic villages with steepled churches
and quaint squares tucked sleepily
against the chards of mountains.
Tiles broken and missing, as if the
floor had hosted dance parties after the doors
were locked, the machines' lids lowered.
The twirling stilettos wore it down.
In this giant room on the last Sunday of the year
Guatemalan grandmothers with impossibly
long braids stuff their clothes into the machines,
a locked determination on their faces,
one more obstacle to fight.
While their children watch cartoons,
squeezed into tiny apartments, as the men
drag home without finding work.
I look around, tall in contrast to the other women.
The washers and dryers chatter noisily,
firing up, shaking their hips, flinging wide their mouths.
Oh the stories they could tell,
if only someone would stop to listen.


Carol Davis Moonday poetry reading at Moonday Poetry West

© 2011 Carol V. Davis

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