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Carol Davis

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Every Night She Barreled Down a Hillside

                                The choices as to cause:

    Column 1                                                               Column 2
    The accelerator stuck                                         The brakes failed
    She tried to pry it off the floor                         Her foot pressed harder
    but it would not budge                                       It did nothing


   Quaint houses stacked like teeth perched on one side of the road.
   The next night only scrub brush, pale as the moon.

   On Wednesday the car was a convertible; Thursday a Ford truck stick shift.


   Choose carefully.

   In one ending, the damage to the house was great but
   the passengers survived. In another it was too late by the time the ambulance pulled up.

   Suing the car company                                        will not bring back the dead.

Pomp and Circumstance

More dirge than celebration,
the horn players trudge along
as if dragging a heavy load behind them.
Whether the melody precedes
the middle schoolers’ footsteps
on their way in to a stadium is unclear.
Elgar bemoaned the popularity
of this piece, cringing when the Yale
Orchestra performed them in 1905,
Every June, instruments like animals
walking two by two up the ramp into
Noah’s Ark: piccolos, flutes, oboes, clarinets.
The music sets the mood.
When parents and grandparents
(seated on bleachers under a blistering sun)
hear the first bars, they start to quiet,
craning their necks, to spot their progeny in
a single-file of polyester gowns, black or purple.
The other day Pomp and Circumstance
played on the radio, not yet graduation season,
so why was it broadcast?
Like Pavlov’s dog, I responded as if still 13,
self-conscious of my own awkward body,
stockings pooling at my skinny ankles.
Wishing to be anywhere else.

Carol V. Davis (She/her) is the author of Below Zero, Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2023, Because I Cannot Leave This Body (Truman State Univ. Press, 2017) and Between Storms (TSUP, 2012). She won the 2007 T.S. Eliot Prize for Into the Arms of Pushkin: Poems of St. Petersburg. Her poetry has been read on
National Public Radio, the Library of Congress and Radio Russia. Twice a Fulbright scholar in Russia, she taught in Siberia, winter 2018 and teaches at Santa Monica College, California and Antioch Univ. Los Angeles. She was awarded a Fulbright Specialist grant for Siberia in 2020, postponed because of Covid restrictions and now cancelled.

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