Nicelle Davis







She Tells Me, “I have Something I Think You’ll Like.”

If you look at zero you see nothing; but look through it and you will see the world.

—Robert Kaplan


Opening the French-doors of a large wardrobe; she takes

out a severed human bellybutton. The blood-

red cabinet is one of those Goodwill-numbers that costs

next to nothing because it is impossible to

move. You can take it, if you can carry it is the rule

of heavy furniture in our neighborhood—

a testament to how well you are loved. The closet

stand a giant I or 1 in the room, but

it wasn’t presence she wanted to show me; no.

What she offered reached into

void—a shriveled zero. Language of detached

flesh—this wordless poem—

this discarded slice of origins— door to

the infinite.                                                Yes, I liked it.




How the Affair with a Part of an Unknown Woman Began


There is no exquisite beauty… without some strangeness in the proportion.

― Edgar Allan Poe


Severed human flesh held to the light of a front window


The fine hairs of a woman’s stomach spark as a touchable


In my hands, bright as parchment, the story I’ve long to read.

At center

a single zero. Flesh dried to immovable permanence, yet

the umbilicus

appears to be twisting into itself. I began to wish she’d

pull me in too.





Sound of Feet from the Severed Bellybutton


What does the one experience in the You? Noting at all. For one does not experience it.

What, then, does one know of the You? Only everything.

For one no longer knows particulars.

—Martin Buber.


I both recoil and delight at judgement—how it brings all things

closer and at the same                            time further away. This

girl who was not                            here, yet fully present

in my hands, could go-                          ssip summon her spirit

back to flesh?

My friend met her years ago when living in ‘No-                                                      where’ Arizona. She describes the girl as being a norm—

suburb-looking thing, not the type who normally appears

unannounced at desert communes; she was after my friend’s

roommate, a well-known body piercer.

My friend knows me well—

knows all about my hours spent documenting body


that shock of


and slip

from conscio-


I’ve a box of portraits showing people going                                                                       where?

I shake the photo-box for the sound of some(one)thing

rattling there.

I shake this severed skin and hear





Lover Who Cannot Answer


Shake the body

       to hear the spirit.

              Hard to be-

lieve that kind of listening

       is worth nil.

              Tell me.


How does one bear the weight of silence?












Nicelle Davis is a California poet, collaborator, and performance artist who walks the desert with her son J.J. in search of owl pellets and rattlesnake skins. Her poetry collections include The Walled Wife (Red Hen Press, 2016), In the Circus of You (Rose Metal Press, 2015), Becoming Judas (Red Hen Press, 2013), and Circe (Lowbrow Press, 2011). Her poetry film collaborations with Cheryl Gross have been shown across the world. She has taught poetry at Youth for Positive Change, an organization that promotes success for youth in secondary schools, MHA, Volunteers of America in their Homeless Youth Center, and with Red Hen’s WITS program. She is the creator of The Poetry Circus and collaborator on the Nevermore Poetry Festival. She currently teaches at Paraclete High School.


The Walled Wife, Red Hen Press, 2016

In the Circus of You, Rose Metal Press, 2015

Becoming Judas, Red Hen Press, 2013

Circe, Lowbrow Press, 2011



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