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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Todd Davis

dream elevator: one

In time


like mold in a washbasin


the plague


which we made


which we are




(warmth and water)


lungs provide both


in ample measure


tents of bodies




as in a windstorm


leg-poles bent


flaps of skin torn


death always






a thousand crows


a puzzle


of sky


thin cracks of light


a map


that shows the way


to suffering.

dream elevator: two

Cities burning.


An ash-filled river.


A few humans


like vessels washed in milk


pole boats


through the river’s sludge,


careful not to touch


the water.


A woman who fed us


reduced to salt and tar.


My mother


held me to the ground,


body like a roof.


She whispered an elegy


to her fur


as it burned.


I saw the pink of dusk


on the ground


as she sheltered me.


No screens.


No buildings


No cars.


Static left the air.


As we once did


we do so again


scratching images


on the bark of trees.

Treading Water

A spell to call down rain.

A chant to stop the flood.


We’d been warned

about the current

where the hole

in the river swirled.


When arms churn

through water, we think

there’s a shore

to swim toward.


A thousand years from now

they’ll chip at layers of time

hidden in mud.


This will reveal how

our hands held the heads

of so many

beneath the waves.


Todd Davis is a former fellow of the Black Earth Institute and the author of six collections of poetry, most recently Native Species (2019) and Winterkill (2016), both published by Michigan State University Press. His writing has won the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Bronze and Silver Awards, the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize, the Chautauqua Editors Prize, and the Bloomsburg University Book Prize. He teaches environmental studies, American literature, and creative writing at Pennsylvania State University’s Altoona College.

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