by Steve Burns, Guest Writer
WARNING: This post is risqué and groovy.
Suddenly her bra’s off and the boobs are out. Maybe some fella’s schlong dangles momentarily on-screen. Either way, it’s happened and both parties who are watching this raunchy scene don’t know how to react. Typically, postures shift or someone clears their throat. You’ve been there when wobbly-bits enter the room, and you’ve endured the post-sex cool-down. These are three minutes and forty-five seconds you’d care not to watch (publicly) again. This is film, however.
When a poet uses the words dick, pussy, cunt, or cock at a reading before an already intently listening audience — something else happens. Ears perk up; smiles crack. My experiences at readings have shown me that poets use these suggestive terms to call attention to something larger than the words themselves. I first heard Ian Davisson read his work at Milano’s Pizzeria as part of CA Conrad’s Milano’s Reading Series. Davisson read his poem, “May 4th, 2012,” which says, “ask the right questions/you’ll be my friend forever/it’s a secret/boner in everyone’s/cup of coffee.” Combined with Davisson’s blunt, quivering delivery, folks around me immediately nodded, smirked, or sent consenting murmurs towards the front of the room where he read. I thought: “Ian uses the word boner in a really interesting way.” Sexualized terms can be abrasive, hauntingly absurd, and, at times, quite charming — Davisson’s work revealed this to me.
“May 4th, 2012” comes from a manuscript titled Summa Cum (appropriate, no?) and, in its entirety, is a ruthlessly lonesome, gnawing piece that flows from one shattered line to the next. A broken sexuality and paranoid isolation is the poem’s driving force; the phallus is at its core. Davisson begins his poem in hiding: “there’s a part of sleep/where you forget/it’s wonderful.” Sleep seems to be Davisson’s only solace. Unfortunately Davisson “won’t sleep tonight” because “I is for ian or/I is for issues.” “Ian” and “issues” are practically interchangeable, equally (painfully) alive. “[S]omeone,” says Davisson, “sleeps/inside me/leaves before I wake up.” It’s this someone who’s “a ghost/on [his] back.”
Davisson’s agony is most evident, however, in his sexually charged lines. On a restless night Davisson writes, “held my dick so tight/must have busted/something/lonely/out.” Here “dick” is being abused, exclaiming loneliness; this is not pleasurable. Davisson’s not sure what’s been released; he’s only certain it feels like isolation. Even “lonely” and “out” sit singularly on the page, unaccompanied in the line. “I’m paralyzed,” says Davisson. The issues Davisson faces have likely been assuaged by “Dr. Verdi” in the past, but in “May 4th, 2012” Davisson “can’t make it this week.” It’s safe to assume that Dr. Verdi is a counselor or therapist—“ask the right questions”—yet Davisson’s difficulties are not so confidential. “[I]t’s a secret/boner in everyone’s/cup of coffee,” writes Davisson. A boner, usually a private phenomenon, is poking obtrusively through everyone’s everyday beverage; it’s not a secret because it’s prodding everyone outright. “I love her,” says Davisson, “I’m sorry/there’s no reason for it/but I do/tell my relatives/I’m ok.” These fragmented lines, which illustrate Davisson’s attempts to calm concerned relatives, struggle to remain cohesive on the page. The “boner” renders assurances useless.
Davisson concludes that he “love[s]/knowing the stuff/that eats [him] alive.” After all, were it not for that stuff, we might not have this wonderfully compelling poem.
Check out more of Ian Davisson’s work here.
Steve Burns works and writes for Philly-based APIARY Magazine. He’s currently enrolled in Rutgers-Camden’s MFA program. His poems are weird. Also, he’s pretty tall.
It’s been a while. I’ve neglected you. Our wondrous layout editor, Lauren, has been accompanying you on our Tumblr, giving you updates when I couldn’t. I’ve been in a daze, spending time in Texas, setting up to go to the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference and the release party for Apiary Magazine’s sixth issue, and preparing for an internship at a printing company in a few weeks. It’s not the most someone can do, but it’s what I’m doing.
First of all, thank you for the support in sharing our last issue. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, please do so! We had some great contributors who are working artists in an age where art lacks that supreme amount of support and popularity you find in a high school football team or Wal-Mart.
Second, wazoo! We’re accepting submissions for our next issue. This one’s gonna be jam-packed with new features, new designs, and new invisible penguins. Submit your work to firstname.lastname@example.org. Starting in June, we will be having a rolling submissions policy. That means at the end of each month, we’ll let our contributors know if their work has been accepted or not (for those who submitted in May, we’ll let you know by the end of June). This will be a better experience not only for the magazine but for those who may be waiting months to hear back from us. Now it’s only one month. Hooray.
Third, we’re going to be having some awesome posts on our blogs, including interviews with photographers and artists Nick Kita, Matheus Fiuza, Kevin Soojian, and James Colville. We also have some new staff to join Lauren and Olivia! Sam and Dean (coincidental if you watch Supernatural) will be, respectively, the new editorial assistant and social media manager.
We’re always looking for guest blog posts, so if you’d like us to review an Op-ed or general article on anything literary, please send it to us. I’m in the middle of one book review project, so book reviews by Yorick are on hold as of now. In the meantime, check out our Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook in the upcoming weeks.
Enjoy life, my fellow humans. Please watch out for horses.