Recent Work By Nicelle Davis

Photo credited to Michael Everett Crawford

Photo credited to Michael Everett Crawford


What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?

No one will ever remember how clean I kept my toilets; use your time for something else.

I. Alive in Naked Earth

Holding shovel is a boy—not boy so much as a body growing.
How his skin—patch of ground—is like a bed. What can’t be
sown in youth? Clean well mouth—spring of throat. New. My

skin’s a stained sheet tied to a dry-line. I’ve asked him, to fold &
bury me? He’ll do as instructed. Spade corner to garden corner.
Hands of earth against my mouth—there was a time I believed

in the all consuming. I want to believe again. Holding a shovel,
is a boy. Buried alive, I reclaim something:
                                            remember when love smelled like rain?


Who are you?

I don’t know. I’ve been reading Martin Buber trying to figure it out. I’ve also been trying to spend more time with real people instead of hiding out with imaginary creatures. I have a list of what I am—but who I am seems far away at the moment.

I think who is better experienced than understood—who exists in its relationship to others—it is the space between the players. Take the film Cat Dancers example, here is a girl, a boy, a cat—who they are seems to exist in the area of that triangle.  I like to watch such areas take shape.

At the moment I’m trying really hard to be more of a player than a voyeur—to experience more—to be more who than what, but this is difficult.

Reborn for exposure, my body’s been redesigned for uncensored
feeling: a sneeze or hiccup comes as a sheet of ice or a bed on fire.

Eyes inverted, the optic nerves reach like roots beyond me. I under-
stand the unseen scars of invisible knives—those rodents’ teeth,

those crows’ bills; natural insertions. The red of it is raw; the surface
glistens like sap gnawed out from trees—wounds that outshine even

the sun— these wet lights are my earthbound constellations. What is
left of me, my son walks next to on his way to school. He tells me he’s

learned, Where rain and casino babies come from; he says, It’s all the same,
really. Inside. Outside. He doesn’t notice any difference. He says,

Race ya, and we run into a storm of babies—falling. Life absorbs
quickly as water into earth and all is an unstaged show of growth.

We will die, Mom, he says, But like star-matter we’ll regenerate. Why
do you think that is? I ask him. So we can find the joy in it, he tells me.

Our story will happen again.

The better I get at barking, the more difficult it is
to realize pitch from product. It’s not that I can’t
recognize what a thing is, it’s simply easier
to walk down dark alleys when their walls
are covered in stars. And why not. Dress
truth in feathers and rhinestones. And
while I’m at it—Unicorns. Un-
icorns who (are) like me.

Dear O, I’ve been told drink makes
truth froth from a soul’s center.

When we first met you slurred
your words—said I had eyes
bright as birds—how you wanted
to hold flight.

I thought you were making a punch
line of me—how as a child a tree
branch stole my eye.

So, I handed you my glass globe
replacement and left. I never
expected you to follow after me—

knocking on my door with gifts
of return— explaining how you
loved to play marbles—entering

me with my eye in your palm—
seeing my face, not as a void,
but a window.


first appeared in Ampersand


Why write?


 Why write?


 Why write?


Why write?


 Why write?


Why write?


Why write?

 Why write?


Why write?


Why write?