SELF-PORTRAIT WITH GOAT
Begin with a vortex, anodyne and grave. Apocalypse of bleats, blur of vexations. Add a waiter. A provisioner of meats, hawker of sides, slosher in the tidal rush. Then let the chef decide, for she will decree unkempt salads, olives warm as tongues, dapper oysters adrift in their ragged boats, pork bellies, baby octopi, escargot ravioli like letters from a secret lover. Then she will initiate the Order of the Goat. It will settle tableward serenely amidst the ruckus and folderol. It will induct and beknight. It will command an audience, commend itself thusly: It will shred easily to the tendered fork, make even vegetarians dream of rocky hillsides, the steep ascent. Orbited by minions and by minions consumed. A brief for friendship, a prolegomenon for poetry, this conspiracy near midnight, this vaunting of the heretofore unvaunted, this cataleptic and tenderest night. [End Page 138]
SELF-PORTRAIT AS THE OTHER JON DAVIS
Fissured and skewed, he was. Occasionally mellifluous. His idea of a vacation: to climb a tree and shout at the neighbors. Such were his settings, always tilted toward excess, always heating the floors so that we could not properly walk without asbestos slippers. They tried to peel the layers back but found only more layers. When he stooped to retrieve his cast-off jottings, his head glowed white like phosphorous or the sun on a gray day. Nobody knew where the otherness came from. It was thought to involve calcium, magnesium, some uncorrectable imbalance. We tried every conceivable adjustment, yet a certain vagueness kept creeping into the equations. See where this vector intersects this wave, the phenomenologist said. But it was no use: one Jon Davis gesticulating beside the kiosk, the other holding a garden hose, dampening the chrysanthemums. [End Page 139]
Jon Davis has published five books of poetry, including Improbable Creatures (Grid Books, 2017), Heteronymy: An Anthology (LaNana Creek, 2015), and Preliminary Report (Copper Canyon, 2010), and five chapbooks. He also co-translated Naseer Hassan’s Dayplaces (Tebot Bach, 2017). Davis directs the Institute of American Indian Arts’ MFA in Creative Writing.