Monday Jul 22

Todd Davis, winner of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize, teaches creative writing, environmental studies, and American literature at Penn State Altoona, as well as in the MFA program at Penn State University Park. His poems have appeared in The North American Review, The Iowa Review, Indiana Review, The Gettysburg Review, Shenandoah, The Christian Science Monitor, West Branch, River Styx, Arts & Letters, Quarterly West, Green Mountains Review, Poetry East,and Image.  He is the author of three books of poetry—The Least of These (Michigan State UP, 2010), Some Heaven (Michigan State UP, 2007), and Ripe (Bottom Dog Press, 2002)—and co-editor of Making Poems:  40 Poems with Commentary by the Poets (State U of New York P, 2010).  His poems have been featured on the radio by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac and by Marion Roach on The Naturalist’s Datebook, as well as by Ted Kooser in his syndicated newspaper column American Life in Poetry.  In addition to his creative work, Davis is the author or editor of six scholarly books, including Kurt Vonnegut’s Crusade, or How a Postmodern Harlequin Preached a New Kind of Humanism (State U of New York P, 2006) and Mapping the Ethical Turn:  A Reader in Ethics, Culture, and Literary Theory (UP of Virginia, 2001).


 In the Kingdom of the Ditch

where Queen Anne’s lace holds
its saucer and raspberry its black
thimble, the shrew and the rat snake
seek after the same God
who mercifully fills the belly
of one, then offers it to the other.

Thoreau, in Death
All April stone weeps, and high, thin clouds ask
how we will know when the spirit has left the body.
Even now he recognizes where he is. He says he must
walk through one world at a time. Because he cannot
see the plum and pear trees from his bed, he asks
if they still bloom. He thinks he hears a veery
among the new leaves, remembers gazing up
through limbs to see the movement of their throats
in song. Those who have gathered smell the heavy
pollen of pitch-pine, recognize that leaving
is no different than entering: we can’t take with us
what we hope to remember. Before the door
to the room is shut for the night, he repeats
what he knows will be lost—first, moose, then, Indian.