The Man Who Rode the Mule Around the World

Jordan Davis
The please freak
And the likeness monster
Follow the pretend family
On their journey alone
Around the room.

In the middle of the night
Comes the terrifying cry—
"How may I help you"

The tree looks down
And shakes its head.

Under separate cover
Of the night, love
Stalks the streets.

The audit committee
Goes into executive session.

In a faraway bedroom,
A baby smiles. Everything
Is happening by the plan.

The sound of hoofs on brick.
Peach lights in the fog.
The bagels are poorly
But the beer is handcrafted.

A continuous stream of information
Broadcast by the insects:

At the sound of the tone,
Please leave a message.

Ah, they will think.
No one home.
It's good for them to think—
Don't do it for them.

Feel free to shout at the screen.
Feel as free as possible.
Feel freer.

More by Jordan Davis

A Boat

When I am sitting at my desk and I have feelings
It is like I am the lone passenger in a little boat
On a sunny windy day.  When we are lying down
And we have good feelings it is a speedboat skipping
Like a stone among the islands I feel we’re in.
When we are sitting in bed at five a.m. talking the light
On I don’t feel so good I feel like we’re on a ferry
For another six hours going back and up and forth
And down.  At least it’s a boat.  When I sit and talk to girls
Someplace I feel like I’m in a maritime museum.
When we walk together to the pool or park it’s like
I’m rowing you across to Banff, and when I
Take you in a car to your mother’s house, the Bay of Fundy.
At work the coast guard, walking there the merchant 
Marine, me in my pea coat.

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!

With My Back to City Hall, On Yom Kippur

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 the cloud cover which resembles my headache 
in its topography and its effect on my mood, 
the path which connects Park Row with Broadway
loves the paranoia which has closed off all the paths closer than this to City Hall, 
Jesus loves the balding man in the striped windbreaker
who looks at my small script and remarks, "Jesus loves you,"
I love the silk suit and the hard candy curl hair
of the middle-aged black woman going by with her dry cleaning, 
I love the sock the bundled baby recumbent in an Aprica stroller kicks out, 
I love from a distance the speck this woman in the tight clothes 
reaches to brush from her shoe, I love the effect it has on her distraction, I love 
the ties tucked into the short sleeve shirts of the men returning from lunch, 
I love the men and women my age strolling
with purpose in their Pumas, the feather tumbling by, 
the drift of the hulking red haired woman with psoriatic elbows, 
the opal in the hairbow of the Hindi woman in white robes 
and the tuck of her husband's shirt into his jeans, 
the ticking of the wheel of the bicycle rolled along 
by a backpack-wearing man on foot, 
the acceleration of an open-roof double-decker tour bus, 
the ignition cough of the not-in-service kneeling bus, 
the change clod and leaf-shuffle of the lower torsos 
and the carry-out conveyor sound of a closed up shopping cart, 
I love the downturned glance of the woman carrying the Borzoi College Reader
    crossing against the light and going into Pace,

may all these people have rent-stabilized leases, 
and may they be registered to vote, in their unions, 
and in the next election.

Related Poems

Easter Monday [excerpt]

Chicago Morning

To Philip Guston

Under a red face, black velvet shyness
Milking an emaciated gaffer. God lies down
Here. Rattling of a shot, heard
From the first row. The president of the United States
And the Director of the FBI stand over
a dead mule. "Yes, it is nice to hear the fountain
With the green trees around it, as well as
People who need me." Quote Lovers of speech unquote. It's
                                 a nice thought
& typical of a rat. And, it is far more elaborate
Than expected. And the thing is, we don't need
                                 that much money.
Sunday morning; blues, blacks, red & yellow wander
In the soup. Gray in the windows' frames. The angular
Explosion in the hips. A huge camel rests
                                 in a massive hand
Casts clouds a smoggish white out & up over the Loop, while
Two factories (bricks) & a fortress of an oven (kiln)
Rise, barely visible inside a grey metallic gust.
                                 "The Fop's Tunic."
She gets down, off of the table, breaking a few more plates.
Natives paint their insides crystal white here (rooms)
Outside is more bricks, off-white. Europe at Night.