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Jeff Davis

Cantata Andante

For Lydia and Daniel


They met because they sang. They heard 

one another sing.

What did she hear when she heard his voice? 

What did he hear, listening to hers?

What wild timbre, what vibrato

almost imperceptible?


Any voice is an exhalation 

of wing-beaten air, a breath

blown through laryngeal folds

we learn to control so that we can speak.

Singers refine that control beyond articulation 

to shape invisible air 

into the glorious colors, the resonant pitches

the modulated reverberations of song.


But even music is but one phase 

in the spectrum of vibrations


and when two lovers hear the mysterious signal,

the harmonic of permission,

of revelation, of opening,


their vibrations enter a new phase,

become visible, an auric penumbra,

a light when their eyes meet.


This emergent radiance hovers about them, 

diffuse at first, then resonates into a coherence,

a flame that did not exist 

before they met, burning in both and yet

a third thing with its own glow. 

It hovers over them, a luminous cloud leading the lost

through the wilderness, a lodestar.


Having met through song,

having explored the epochal harmonies

that awoke in each and both of them,

now they duet in one complex voice.

Now they choir.

Bodies Falling

(for Bryan)


Stones falling through the dark sky

catch fire the Perseids

the summer I had left 

your mom and wondered

as I lay there on the beach

looking up what augury

glowed in those high flames

random as fireflies

courting with flashes in the night


wondered, too,  what

imagination she had

of where she stood just then

mother abandoned wife


if she was lost 

too like me

watching wherever she was

these falling stars decay.

Red Seasons



The female



as strongly 

colored as the 

male,  red 

brown   nest

gathering in 

liliacs says, ah,

winter ends.



The Paulonia

“princess tree” 

                        lavender flowers

rampant          stands beside

the jack pine,


roots tangled                        

in the same 


on the rock‘s face.

& the male 


leaps among the red


roses, red

on red


fearful of

no   thorns.



maple leaves

red translucent

as they emerge


green, then

in June


but red, red

again they turn

to reach

the end


into November air.

Jeff Davis’ poems have appeared in Asheville Poetry Review, the Nantahala Review, Kakalak, Iodine, the anthologies In the Belly of the Beast and Far From the Centers of Ambition, and other print and online journals. His Natures: Selected Poems, 1972 – 2005 appeared in 2006.


He has hosted the radio program Wordplay, which features poets and writers of creative prose, since 2005; it’s now broadcast via and WSFM, 103.3 on the FM radio dial in the Asheville area. The program has featured readings by and interviews with Robert Bly, Robert Creeley, Charles Frazier, Thomas Rain Crowe, Jessica Jacobs, Nickole Brown, Lee Ann Brown, Katherine Stripling Byer, Michael Hettich, and many other writers during its fifteen-year run.

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