Ha Ha Only Serious

Jordan Davis

I cry every day.I wake up and look over at the bookslying across your side of the bed.I make bread because I have to knead something.My heart feels heavylike I dropped it on myself.I am spinning a cocoon of paper.When I emerge I’ll have wings of dust.Every second in this cityeveryone judges everyone else.And themselves too.They only give gold medals to people who take them.A mockingbird stays up with me.Bird, you’re a little ahead of your entrance.Come help me wash away all the flour.Sing me the song of the garbage trucks and cops.

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Jordan Davis

Jordan Davis is the author of Million Poems Journal (2003) and several chapbooks including POD: Poems on Demand (2011). He was Poetry Editor of The Nation from 2010 to 2012. His prose has appeared in Chicago Review, Slate, The Nation and the Times Literary Supplement, and his poems have appeared in The Awl, American Poetry Review, The Nation, Poetry, and The New Yorker.

The first collection in fifteen years from a poet whose first book Stephanie Burt called “very personal, very appealing,” Shell Game by Jordan Davis presents a series of puzzles of feeling and mazes of history where the person speaking disappears into the world, and vice versa, without warning.

Starting against the backdrop of New York in 2001 and working back to the words that came into the English language during World War II, Jordan Davis’s second book teleports to Turkey in the middle of the century in a series of poems reimagining the work of Orhan Veli Kanik as a New York School poet, then returns to reflect on the precarious present in which everything is at incredible risk, and trying to laugh about it.

In addition to “My Orhan Veli,” Shell Game includes the sparkling long poems, “When I Was the Subject,” “A Million Random Digits” and “The Throat,” critical digressions on copyright, several brutal short poems, and at opposite ends of the book, two quantum-entangled baffling sequences about… quantum entanglement and bafflement, what else?

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