Ether Sea Projects

About the Book

DavidsonThe Arcades

Michael Davidson

1998 • 72 pp. • $10.00
ISBN: 9781882022359


“Great architecture,” Emerson tells us, “is the flowering of geometry.” But what geometry flowers in a mall? Michael Davidson’s arcadia is a millenarian penmanship, a graphing of the crawl spaces that connect commerce with the new boulevards that “form in the mind.” The first arcade is that vault of “silent typing” where dark sounds are “gurgling in the canal.” Davidson is an architect of our attention, a geometer of sound stanzas.”
— Aldon Lynn Nielsen

“From deep within the belly of the beast, where desire and denial dance, where M. Capital and Mme. Earth ghostwalk together and the Angel of History has shed its wings, Michael Davidson has fashioned a work of extraordinary wit, human insight and verbal invention. The game’s afoot, the screw is loose, buy two.”
— Michael Palmer

“War, commodities, and the body link together this often intensely autobiographical series of poems. Michael Davidson’s most recent collection represents a stunning exploration of the uneasy relation between public and private, pain and pleasure, in our puzzled and puzzling end of the millenium culture.”
— Susan Howe

About the Author

Michael Davidson is the author of seven books of poetry, including The Landing of Rochambeau (1985) and Post Hoc (1990). The Arcades is a sensitive transplant; “the nul that was childhood” as if a dream beside the Berlin Wall next to Nordstrom’s — is a perspective of the present, a realm of the “public,” in which: “I was there and am returning.” Michael Davidson is director of the Archive for New Poetry at University of California in San Diego.



Blanched green washed blue
statice on the mend, earnest
purple pompoms, airwar stymied
by apparent collusion, generals stumped
schoolbus turns down Stevens
water truck airbrakes alert dogs,
Mr. Noggs grumbles near the fence
(dull thunk on porch),
landform awaits its yellow flags
defines catdoor or confrontation
with Norma over encroaching vines,
private colleges on endowments
defend Machiavelli
and the elder Pliny against film theory,
alert bird hops on fence, blast
of yellow almost knocks him over
Islam is a desert with breaking news
line of soft grey scrub
declines east to supermarket
complex hidden from view.


Seek remedies in the sleep margin
uncited men drinking and slouching
in transitional downtown, one
dances along a pediment on the second floor
another watches
to be in their threadbare
there must be electronic gadgets
in open air arcades,
portable remedies in the parking corridor
where the corner meets
another corner, accounts anticipate
these consumers in the big ledger
injections of an otherwise effluent
of a profitable share, the blimp
is a rentable vantage from which a pitched
ball becomes a Ford
while a struck glare and bombed basement
disappear from the front page
inconsequential as a mental recently released,
read these as an imperative attaches
to luxury and the intersections
will suggest themselves
much as a city creates signage
to give access to access.


In one way all shoppers may be cruising grammarians.
— Meaghan Morris

Back of the wake lay something black
peopled with familiars clothed in suc
or actions stuffed with portent: point
and a person shuffles, buy
and a stranger smiles,
in this arranged and portioned glass
one finds the known, the vestige
of a lived that can be carried
in a marked sack to the next
western village with ice rink
hill town with subterranean pool
parking with vegetables; a woman
pushing a pram is snapped
from an eye in the roof, image developed
in a humming room she is not permitted to see
but in strolling, not buying
extends, complicates these aisles
until meanders seem pointed
where upon waking for a brief
moment one is lost

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