HomeArchiveAboutMastheadJoin POW ListserveDonateBlank page
Steve Davenport


Arrange Their Sea-Smooth Bones in Fourteen Broken Rows

In your lizard-skin boots, reread the book of myths.
Dip it two parts whiskey to one part gunpowder.
Fall in tongues or fever, thieving the terrible.
Wake and feel the fell of dark, not day. What black hours.
Then saddle a sea horse and dive into the wreck.
Salvage all you can of the poets buried there.
Arrange their sea-smooth bones in fourteen broken rows.
Art is entrails spilled and a hand drawing itself.
Decide on a syllable count of twelve per line.
Carve out your space as the Cowgirl of Amour Fou
or the Cowboy of Ra rocking the Drunken Boat.
Employ a figure, a sidekick, to kick your ass.
Call him Murfy and take his advice: sonnetry
like shrapnel, like bricks through the living room window.

As If There Were Strength in Boundaries and Walls

One room from the kill floor, your face knuckling into
mine, I curl inward like a slug or a body
or a fist, like liquor returning to a jar
as if there were safety in return, troops and ammo,
as if there were strength in boundaries and walls,
as if the bottle was ever anything but
an analogy for our bag of skin, the neck
our neck, the body our body, the mouth our mouth,
the liquid the self we think is measurable,
containable, the container a glass body
bag, the full measure of who we are, a closed field,
our only escape a killing drain, a pouring
of our self into our self, a self-pitying
erasure, an annihilating inward curl.

These Archaeologies of Self, These Life Studies

Tonight I'm the topographer of my desire.
No need for grace or wings lifting my boot-heeled feet
or any of the tired myths of sobriety.
My bed a map, I'm straddling pillows and blankets
like mountain chains, hurdling ridges, peaks, and mesas
like slurred words, a badlands sonneteer yodeling
and stumbling after Snodgrass through the universe.
At Whiskey Edge, I drink, watch the poets dig, scout
picks for the suicide pool. Serious business,
these archaeologies of self, these life studies.
I like the look of massacre when a poet
gives up sifting, strikes the last vault, the awful blood.
Confessing surfaces only, I stagger on,
the tinhorn poet of drink, see where it gets me.

Like Paint Bullets Exploding, Annie O Hits Me

Throwing spells at the phone like dice, I drink and wait
for Oakley to call about that tour with Tonto,
a murderous poetry spree across the West.
Bang! At ten the door and sharp-shooting Annie O.
My art, she says, is a kind of action painting.
I fire plastic bullets at things that take paint.
Canvases, boards, buildings, animals with thick hides.
How about the moon, I whisper. She slides her hand
down my washboard belly. I done roped that dogie,
even shot it once, but I understand your need.
You're a poet. The moon's important. So let's deal.
I'll drive us all to Tulsa. I have some work there.
Later, the untranslatable. Like paint bullets
exploding, she hits me. I do my best werewolf.

My Prairie Love Blossoms in Wildflower Sonnets

Here's where drink gets me. Over mountains and badlands,
across fields, back to prairie grass. Unrepentant.
My suitcases unloaded in sequence and stacked
on the porch like cartridges, a Remington's length
from the whiskey barrel that has my name on it.
Here's the April scene. Oakley pointing at the moon,
saying the rivers in me are dark and lyric.
I call her a prairie blossom, a cornflower.
A crack shot, she adds. I nod, and the wolves kick in,
their ludic choir yawping epithalamium.
Sounds good, she says, and we drink to frontier in us
and out, the baggage part of it. Scars are stories,
she says. Or poems, I add. Our plan: handfasting
to a sour-mash yodel, things flowing as they will.

                         -from Uncontainable Noise

Listen to "Arrange..."

Listen to "As if lids..."

Listen to "These Archaeologies..."

Listen to "Like paint bullets..."

Listen to "My Prairie Love..."




Kim Addonizio 03-14-08


Agha Shahid Ali 09-14-07


Alice Anderson 11-16-08


Renee Ashley 04-10-2010


Christianne Balk 07-27-07


Brian Barker 07-07-07


Polina Barskova 09-13-2010


Bruce Beasley 11-22-08


Nicky Beer 09-06-2010


Nicky Beer 08-22-08


Nathaniel Bellows 04-27-09


Ciaran Berry 01-25-09


Linda Bierds 08-31-07


Kristin Bock 08-17-09


Bruce Bond 02-18-2012


John Bradley 03-12-2012


Brian Brodeur 03-29-09


Michelle Boisseau 09-20-2010 


Sophie Cabot Black 03-26-2012


Anne Caston 09-24-09


Anne Caston 02-27-2011


Elizabeth Biller Chapman 01-25-08


Nicole Cooley 04-05-09


Stephen Cramer 02-14-2011


Nicole Cuddeback 03-07-08


Steve Davenport 03-29-2010


Cortney Davis 05-03-09


Todd Davis 11-01-2010


James Dickey 03-12-2012


Stephen Dobyns 02-26-2012


Elizabeth Dodd 09-05-08


Karen Donovan 04-15-07


Mark Doty 04-11-08


Stephen Dunn 11-09-02010


Lynn Emanuel 08-30-2010


Lynnell Edwards 11-22-2010


B. H. Fairchild  09-04-09


Elyse Fenton 04-25-2011


Nick Flynn 01-28-2012


Nick Flynn 10-04-2010


Rachel Contreni Flynn 04-10-2011


Carolyn Forche 09-21-07


Carrie Fountain 03-21-2011


James Galvin 02-23-07


Margaret Gibson 01-24-10


Mary Jo Firth Gillett 02-22-08


Dana Gioia 08-23-2010


Eugene Gloria 09-20-08


Louise Gluck 03-17-2010


Kevin Goodan 08-29-08


Matthew Graham 11-28-2010


Robert Grunst 11-16-07


Bruce Guernsey 9-13-2011


Elizabeth Hadaway 06-15-07


John Haines 11-01-2011


Donald Hall 02-10-07


Sarah Hannah 11-25-2011


C. G. Hanzlicek 04-23-2012


Jeff Hardin 08-10-07


Elizabeth Haukaas 09-13-2011


Brooks Haxton 03-08-10


Seamus Heaney 09-11-09


Jamey Hecht 12-05-2010


Bob Hicok 10-25-2011



Andrew Hudgins 11-21-09


Lynda Hull 05-20-07


Henry Israeli 01-23-2011


Major Jackson 05-02-2010


Mark Jarman 10-19-08


Rodney Jones 10-26-09


Barbara Jordan 02-02-09


Ilya Kaminsky 11-18-2011


Daniel Khalastchi 8-30-2011


Brigit Pegeen Kelly 10-12-08


Jane Kenyon 04-01-07


Suji Kwock Kim 11-09-2011

 James Kimbrell 04-07-2010

James Kimbrell 01-19-07


Galway Kinnell 11-09-07


Yusef Komunyakaa 07-15-07


Phil Levine 06-03-07


Eleanor Lerman 11-02-08


Larry Levis 04-04-08


Larry Levis 02-08-2010


Lisa Lewis 02-11-2012


Sandy Longhorn 04-26-08


Corey Marks 10-03-07


Adrian Matejka 04-18-08


Davis McCombs 01-18-08


Jeffrey McDaniel 10-08-2011


Michael McGriff 02-22-09


Jay Meek 01-16-2010


Anne Michaels 01-18-09


Nils Michals 02-29-08


Keith Montesano 12-12-2010


Malena Morling 05-12-08


Simone Muench 02-08-08


Sharon Olds 02-22-07


Sharon Olds 10-19-07


Michael Ondaatje 02-01-2010


Eric Pankey 09-07-07


Gregory Pardlo 06-22-07


Ed Pavlic 09-28-07


Oliver de la Paz 02-15-2010


Lucia Perillo 12-04-09


Catherine Pierce 04-18-2011


Jon Pineda 04-09-2012


Donald Platt 02-15-08


Joshua Poteat 03-13-2011


Joshua Poteat 11-3-09


Wyatt Prunty 02-20-2011


Dean Rader 03-07-2011


Amy Randolph 03-01-09


Robert Randolph 12-12-09


Adrienne Rich 04-20-2010


Joshua Robbins 11-16-2010


David Roderick 12-07-07


Bobby C. Rogers 02-04-2012


Pattiann Rogers 3-21-08

 Steve Scafidi 10-09-09


Jim Schley 10-19-09


Tim Seibles 10-08-07


David Shumate 10-26-08


Dave Smith 04-10-09 


Katherine Soniat 01-21-2012


Katherine Soniat 11-30-07


Gary Soto 03-23-07


Mark Sullivan 08-28-09


Mathias Svalina 04-02-2012

Frank Stanford 10-25-2010

Mark Strand 02-22-2010


Mark Svenvold 03-23-09


Robert Thomas 05-03-2011


Brian Turner 05-13-07


Joshua Vinzant 01-30-2011


Tribute to Virginia Tech 04-24-07


Connie Voisine 10-1-2011


Charles Harper Webb 10-12-07


David Wevill 03-27-2011


C.K. Williams 05-25-07


Susan B.A. Somers-Willett 06-29-07


Charles Wright 01-27-07


Robert Wrigley 10-11-2010


Robert Wrigley 08-17-07


Robert Wrigley 04-09-07


Robert Wrigley 02-03-07


Enter supporting content here