The Dead Are Still Shaving
by John Davis

They break in to boarded-up houses
looking for razors. They cannot see themselves
in the failed mirrors. The fine line
between their upper lips and noses has become
jumbled like a ball of silver yarn. The dead

pull on grubby jeans and boots, pour stale coffee
still on the stove. The caffeine has no kick.
On the porch they light cigarettes
but do not have the breath to inhale
exhale the first sins of morning.

They write peach ice cream on a shopping list.
The letters disappear like the flavor. The dead sit down
on couches ready to argue curfew time
with their daughters, and who will use
the car, who will vacuum the back room,

who will mow, weed, prune. But no daughter is arguing.
No daughter is licking fruity lip gloss from her lips.
The dead miss the way their shadows
enter a room before they do and soften the light.
They climb on exercise bikes and pedal.

After half an hour there is no sweat.
The heart monitor reads 00 and still they pedal
faster, going nowhere. Outside, they wander off
ready to discard the afterlife the way a hang glider
discards one valley for another.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 15, Issue 2.

John Davis lives on an island in Puget Sound, Washington. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in North American Review, Passages North and Poetry Northwest. He has a chapbook, The Reservist, (Pudding House Press), and his book, Gigs, is forthcoming from Sol Books.

See all items about John Davis

Visit John Davis’s contributors page.

Leave a Reply