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Weeping Garden: Construction by Joyce Blunk

A Selection from

Jeff Davis: NatureS

As part of a creative collaborative effort between poet and painter, Asheville artist Joyce Blunk’s work appears on the covers and in the text of Davis’s new book NatureS (Published by New Native Press, PO Box 661, Cullowhee, NC 28723 – Speaking about their collaboration, Jeff Davis says, "Upon meeting, Joyce and I sensed, immediately, a mutual resonance in our respective work and its relationship to the natural world." A renaissance man, he was in the graduate writing program at UNC-Greensboro and studied with Robert Creeley (SUNY Buffalo), and has also taught at UNC-A as assistant professor of Anthropology, worked as a baker, photographer and founded a computer programming and trouble-shooting business.

The poems in the NatureS book were written over the course of a career, and are love poems to and of nature, to and of flesh. The many natures of what we, as humans, are, as well as what we strive for, wish for and dream of. Davis’s poems in this collection are place-specific to the western North Carolina mountains, their fauna and flora, their cultures and seasons. Commenting on Davis’s new book, western North Carolina’s own Jonathan Williams has written: "I divide poetry into what I can read and what I cannot read. I am new to Jeff Davis’s work but hit’ll read!!! It reminds me that writers named Robert Creeley and Charles Olson once taught at Black Mountain College in Buncombe County NC--and made a difference." Visit Jeff's blog NatureS.

Artist Joyce Blunk brings to the collaboration a reputation as an internationally-shown and recognized artist. Her intricate box collages using objects found in nature have graced the space of art galleries in France, Germany, Ireland, Asia, Canada, Mexico and the U.S.


To the Muse

I wanted to take you
to a place
I did not know
the waypast
names' masks
to your face.

Lost, amazed
I came to your
words on a rock:
"Waited.Meet me."
I went on

to a place
I thought
you made
a bed
we moved
on an arc
of blood
through sleep

silent you
gave me a dream
of your naked eyes
my lost home
it was
I came to you.

Three For No One

You took my road
and gave me your shadow,
took my empty hands
and set them in your blood
to fill with the river
which called my name.

When you married the ocean
I spoke to
the waves
called your name up -

just awakened,
an alphabet covered with sleep.

Your burned shadows
sleepwalk back
one by one
and torch my maps of your breath.

As always,
their ash
is the fodder of sleep.

The Bird Returning to Its Nest
(after the painting by George Braque)

Back. Back to the nest,
a cave, a boat
on the sea of earth,
to live in it.

Some haste to the form
of her flight,
she comes
from fields of wheat
& rose hedges
which have filled her wings' shadows.

She might have flown
nowhere, her eyes cooling

She is tired, but it is more simple.
She does not arc down
for one night only.
She is given:

Like an anchor,
she does not move her wings
into this depth,

this dream
she remembers
as she returns
to the nest and three eggs
empty of everything
but the descent.

The Link

Your arms filled with chains
of frenetic dust

your tongue a ruby cenotaph

Lady, caught in your coils,
let me delve the runes of your blood
and drink from your forgotten mouth
full of the alphabets of butterflies

let me, lost,
come to the first word.

The Cotyledon

Two lovers lie
together, like two
inside the finished seed
bound asleep
to the root
the long tunnels
& subway
which end nowhere:
a door
through which each day
drop by drop
a river seeps from the rock
and rises
through their
flesh into morning.

A Meeting

One night we took our wounds,
our axes, broke them, fed them
to a flame to see by
in the dark, naked, unarmed.

The Forum in Weeds

A field
the paths cross
and cross
a fine net
of doors roots
to stop
broken fall
paths pass
between stones
into the
opened field.

The Bridge

The syntax of a magnolia
unravels in the dream
each flower passesinto
a trajectory
through forms
a long bridge
leads from the earth
through these limbs
all built
by the eye of the seed
turned in the root's spiral
from veil to
a bridge cast
from the ash of
the flower
petals channel the air.

Going to the Water

The water fallthe rain
fallsand breaks
the order of words
to penetrate
thought's interstices
and wash the rivulets
and the mind
thinking of them
clear again, a moment,
to the Unknown:

Down stream
another juncture of
water to
uncover the
cold rock, strip
dirt off down to nets
of roots hold laurel,
oak, and hemlock
tight and live:

Leaves drop in
and are carried off,
limbs are taken off to rot:

And the water leaves
what holds
deep to what
the strong earth
through all
uplift and turmoil
does not unfold.

A Tithe of Clouds

The ridge exacts a tithe of rain
when pilgrim clouds
from the plain of Georgia and the Gulf
rise, and mass at the mountain gaps
like flocks, up the high road.
They head north lightened.
The streams sing on their way down.

Strata: Rhododendron
(For Alan Lynch)

when the mind vanishes,
the real appears.
... Learn to see.

Geography: The Boundary

The granite cliffs
edge zones of life;
the transition between
compressed by the ascent up
steep palisades
into a few miles
as the crow flies

from the low land
(hollies thriving under pines
in simple shadow)
to the ridge crest,
beyond which the light
lingers at dusk in the steep
woods, westward; and reveals
the broad, dark green
leaves, the
rose tree still sunning
in hollows opened by
the winter wind;
buds prolific,
clustered in thickets, it thrives
in the high severity,

clinging to the thin earth
of sky, which remakes
earth constantly
from the gone, the
left that also leaves,
palimpsest life,
lives and deaths,

in the high land,
beyond the boundary of regions.

The Forester's Eye

To the forester's eye
the forest has order
& structure
wrapped in its green veils:
oaks, poplars, pines
the canopy; below
them, dogwoods
flowered in the thin
shade of new spring leaves;

hollies beneath, glossy,
and rhododendrons, bud
sheathes still furled, pointed
beyond the end of winter.

Blue Ridge

How many million years
kindle in your dark leaf,
magna folia,
older than the rose?

Another chapter of the unknown
from the lush turbulence
before us all
descended, relic,
ancient among those which remain,
through all change:

forty million years
riding the blue ridges as they rise,
as they crumble and subside,
and are again uplifted

still glistening, drenched
in April rain.


The settlers called them "hells",
these dense entanglements
of root and limb -
impassible, large
enough (rhodendron
loves like company)
to get lost in,

like the hiker
half-starved, arrived
at Kephart's door:

I have been out
in the laurel
thickets, now, these
three days and two
nights; so nothing could
have induced me
to leave this trail,
once I found it,
until I could see
out to a house
on one side or
the other of
the mountain.

the settlers called
them "hells"
for cause - easier
to escape the clutches of
once tangled.

Green River

There must be
water to open the earth
to the digging
root, to ease its entry

Here, it wore the land
Low willows
watch water slip
over stones
through thick

tree-rose, kalmia,
laurel wood.

This was your river,
Lady of the Rivers,
when I came to you lost
in my own thicket of
mind's perplexity,
and you bathed me
in the torpor of a vivid sleep,
anointed me, joined me
to the body of the land
your river passed through,
took me beyond
myself, and the argument
I let die as it mingled
With the cool air, lost
among the leaves.

Lost Agisegwa.

And still
the water
that she was remains
to find its way always
down through the scattered
stones of her forgotten
creek to river,
to ocean, there raised
up to spirit once more, into
the moving aether, to fall
on these hills as rain,
opening the soil,
sustaining by her stream
the oaks, the rose tree,
lichens, moss, and all below.

The Stones

Gray lichens cover
the rocks,
and beneath the rocks
lifting their difficult bodies from the earth
the roots of everything entwine.
And with them the tunnels
of the mole, the caves
of ants and worms, deep larvae
still asleep, infinitesimal archaea,
to unravel all the layered complexity
above, and

under, last, within,
Nothing lives - but
in the luminous emptiness
the central stone.

The Strategy

In the green time, flower;
hidden amid the taller oaks and pines,

or on the bare bitter crags
in small company, survive;

deliver the magenta
text of rocks,
of the leaves,
long dead,
broken from their limbs,
layered in the rich earth,
angels of the stones.

Notes in the Common Key:
Strata Epilogue
(for Robert Creeley)

Strata of mind
of world,
world in mind,
mind in world
It made,

locked as always
in embrace, each
the other's
grown in world
from world - all
animal - but
diffident in its
apparent power, its
illusion, always,
wants to be

beside my self
where would I be?

the onely I
I'll ever know
as one
and from inside.

and out.

Here in mind
in skin
is first home
for anyone.

Noetic Issues On the Trail

In the city we can
drink wine and wonder -
does the world
actually exist
as other than a shared
abstraction - or
we, and how? Words
of being pass the time
we seem to be in.

But on the steep trail,
just hold on to the ( a tug
will tell you if it's firm)
rock, and mind
where your foot lands.

Yes, the mind is many,
and the red flesh the mind
thinks it is separate from
is substrate, ganglion, synapse,
and leaping thought
a few sparks
flashing through a circuit's gap.
And so the matrix forms, a lattice
of new memories, in
sights, and a story arrives,
sound in mind in time.
I have a bottle of wine
in mind, it says, to share with you.

Visit Jeff's blog NatureS. NatureS the book is published by and available from New Native Press, PO Box 661, Cullowhee, NC 28723 –