Category Archives: Catherine Davis

Rock, Paper, Scissors by Catherine Davis

Picture point A. Hesitant, curious, shy. (A is a Modigliani in a Van Gogh starry night.)

Point B emerges on the horizon; now A is aquiver with visions of a dance. (B is handsome Hiawatha lately of the forest.) And voilà – points A and B conjoin. A solid line through space and time, spinning, stretching, drawing so close as to be barely distinguishable.

Enter point C: saunter, slither, blast. See what you get. (C is a Siren, with luscious blues and overripe lips.) A and B are intoxicated. Much ado, and so on.

A triangle is considered a stable structure. Ha.

A triangle is a structure, in fact, only insofar as it remains a triangle. When two of its legs fall off, it becomes a line, with a redundant point hovering somewhere off in the margin. It’s a new order.

Picture point A. Off course, wobbling, confused.


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THIRTEEN WAYS OF NEVERMORE: ARKANSAS, 12/31/2010 by Catherine Davis

Pas de cinq mille, in B minor.

(The stage will be crowded.)

Instruments: violin, cello, blue guitar, tambourine.

~ ~ ~

Scene: MIDNIGHT all day. Bleak December. A chiaroscuro, snowing blackbirds.

Swirling FLIGHT. [Andantino > vivace > agito > furioso ffff]

Action: NO ONE hears them cry out – in this un-startled ear of night. At least, no one admits it, afterwards.

Always there are shadows, ghosts rise and fall. It happens all the time. This is only a part of the PANTOMIME.

Primary characters: an INNUENDO, perhaps: being slight of brain, they follow the wrong leader. Or, not understanding signals, they mistake the red beacon and fly against a GREEN LIGHT.

Costume: Extravagant black plumage, with RED-tipped wings.

Secondary characters: the THIN MEN, who prefer golden birds. To embrace the beauty of light or the beauty of dark, this was never their question.

Pre-Scene: Beebe was already knee-deep in BIRD SHIT. (Hm, recreate or not?)

Abruptly: in a denser air, between issue and return, not a FEATHER flutters. Sudden, utter stillness. [Mysterioso]

Now, five thousand: plummeting. Keeping time, time, time. PLUMMETING, each a singular instant.

The breast, the bone, dashed bodies on stone. Maybe ASPHALT. (In sixes, dancers crash to floor.) [Sforzando piano sfzp]

Easy as EGGSHELLS. Broken beaks, broken bells. Wingless and withered, by the blunt force of earth. Crimson blooms on each breast, spreading. Spreading, until: fade to RED. [Morendo]

Where do I begin?


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Aspects of the Story by Catherine Davis

Three stories spinning at once, not to mention watching out for cars. It’ll be a wonder if your Asparagus Syndrome client doesn’t end up on Poet’s Walk picking her way through masses of grackles and starlings.

Lock this bike to the rack.

Plus that song repeating all day, an– hold on! Asparagus is an item on the shopping list, not a story – see? See! Good thing for the helmet, so nothing else gets in, but on the other hand: what if it’s a pressure cooker, exacerbating the whole situation?

Pull the helmet off.

Consider the detail that a good thirty percent of life is past your bedtime. Stolen. No wonder the sun is always going down. Now, for instance.

Plunk an asparagus into the basket. Also bananas.

Sirens bark in the distance, dogs wail around the neighborhood. Ah, Dodie Smith, you smile. But: those puppies clamoring to be adopted in Houston. Also emails due for Berlin, Auckland, and Orange County Penitentiary. An address you unfortunately don’t have. You frown.

Think: Mapplethorpe envisioned the whole, complete, in an instant – then simply raced to execute. So they say.

That neighbor has spotted you ­– despite your cycling disguise – you’re forced to chat at the checkout, clenching your teeth against blurting out what her ruffians did to your yard. And the private line is ring-ring-ringing through: Hello, hello – these are your stories calling!

Christ, put the helmet back on – don’t let another thing in! Goggles, too. Rose-colored. At least there’s the filter of that.


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A Fair Opportunity, by Catherine Davis

“Step on up! Get your CO-incidence Plan, OR: your FOR-tay’un MYS-ter-ies! A ONCE in a lifetime OP-portunity!”

Miranda’s friends had taken off: no bialys or bracelets here. But the silver-haired man, his musical voice, his conjuring hands – this electric air had captured Miranda.

“Invest in your OWN beliefs, LAY-dies and Gentle-MEN!”

Suddenly it’s her turn. The silver-haired man and his partner rush her: Birthday? Right-handed; left? Favorite color? Now, THE question.

“My mom says there are no coincidences.”

“And your dad says – nothing but.” Miranda frowns. “Lucky guess,” he shrugs.

“Still, I don’t know what ‘fortayun’ means!”

“Sure y’ do, hon, otherwise you wouldn’ta come. Your Fortean Mystery is exactly the opposite of coincidence, see? How much you got?” Man Two talks fast.

Coincidence: one quarter; Fortean: five bucks. Miranda shifts foot to foot.

Man One sighs. “Coincidence is cheap. Popular. Makes people comfortable. But you seem a young woman of… ? Ah, you get what you pay for. Then, Fortean is… complex.”

“No guarantees!” interrupts Two. “You got the opportunity to make life easy.”

Miranda studies the piggy-bank money cupped in her hands. “One of each?”

“Noooo,” they chime. “Gotta be one way or the other,” Two adds, arms folded.

She starts– but they shush: “Whisper into my ear,” says One.

Pocketing her money, they flourish a fancy certificate: gold seal and all.

“Keep it to yourself,” they say, rolling it up.

Miranda hurries through the crowd, past cotton-candy vapors, clutching her prize – eyes wild with worry and wonder.


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Houston Street, 6PM by Catherine Davis

52|250 would like to thank Catherine Davis for this week’s picture, Houston Street, 6PM. Here is her succinct summation.

“Just so; whatever was I thinking? August 2000.”


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The Way the Wind Slices by Catherine Davis

Beneath your frozen boots a butt in every seam of the sidewalk, so quit counting. Quit veering towards the curb where cab after cab sprays the pooling slush, while honking at god knows what. Think back to the warehouse, those thousand pounds of womanflesh glaring at you one more time-card long. Shit, so it’s uncool to notice the spare tires on those five, six bitches, how they waddle –they are going to keep at it forever ‘cause you eat French fries at lunch. Right on past tomorrow’s snow day without pay, and how the fuck can below-freezing still be wet? Across the street, a homeless guy goes down on the black ice. Sure you’d like to help, or to think that you’d like, but it’s bitter and your fingers are freezing too. Yank the hat against the bite, hunker faster and tighter.

Still, the way the wind slices, you gotta admire. Wind knows its business.

At last inside with your frostbroken feet, it’s colder than it oughta be. Only when the light switch mocks you in the indifferent dark, do you snap to the disconnect notice fallen on the threshold. Today the power company came calling. How you’re supposed to pay, it’s no use to ask. Shut the door, dump your shit, light a joint. Gather the blankets and coats in the whole place on top of you. Reckon whether your feet will be colder with the soggy boots on or off. Contemplate your breath, fogging in the gloom.


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THE BROTHERS VERNE by Catherine Davis

Underneath, distance is the thing, not time. Time, only insofar as how long it sustains. On one breath.

Kid can swim. Two minutes seventeen, second turn. Length of limbs: mechanical advantage. Slenderness of frame: reduced drag. Accidents of birth, not strength of mind. “Citius, altius, fortius!”

The bottom is tinted with fine shades of ultramarine. Surely the way we were meant to move in the world. If not gills? Adaptation. A single breath – extend until it capitulates and – I’m in. Blast the barrier.

Two and forty-eight. Carbon dioxide dribbling up to the surface. Soon will be nothing left, then fire, cells screaming, and he’ll give it up.

Burbles, gurgles, whooshing of displaced water. Sunlight refracting in shards. The solar rays easily crossed this aqueous mass and dispersed its dark colors,

Hypoxia. It happens.

His shadow cuts the light as he stands by, clocking me. He will be so proud: a younger brother worth having! One league only is fifty-five laps plus one length of this pool. Imagine. It can be done, in time.

Teach the brat a lesson. He challenges my three minutes, seven?

Every cell of my skin feeling the flow – a billion individual sensations. This is… alive.

Can’t be doing three, twenty-two and still… no, not moving. It’s inaccurate data. Reset, I’m done.

I call your name, but you don’t hear. I’ll sleep now, while I wait.

So? Hypoxia, he gets a snootful, he’ll snap out of it.

Brother, how will we reach the bottom of the sea?


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