Because I Cannot Leave This Body

Carol V. Davis


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In her new poetry collection, Carol V. Davis crosses cultural and geographic boundaries to explore her family’s history as Jews, as outsiders, as immigrants. Ranging from Los Angeles to Nebraska to Germany to Russia, she probes the boundaries between faith, folklore, and superstition, trying to find her own way in landscapes that both beckon and threaten. The present, past and the human body move through the lens of her dark humor. Her restless mind is most at home at the uncomfortable edges where solace, when found, is ephemeral and fragmentary.




The Edge of Things




Flying off the Page

Animal Time

Predicting Weather

Long Shadows

Hollowed Fruit

What Followed

The Equation

Late January, Wyoming Storm


Speaking in Tongues 

What Really Happened

Contemplating Murder


Money Laundering

Into the Forest


Because One and the Other

What I’d Ban

The Dog Show

John Bower, Biologist, Explains Bird Calls

Let Rust Take its Rightful Place

This is Where We Stand

Because the Porchlight Flickered



Black Hat

Even Now

A Watched Pot

Again the Crows

The Day It Changed

On the Eve of Yom Kippur, I Listen to the Rachmaninoff Vespers

The Butcher 


Covering the Mirrors

What Is Faith, After All

Reflections on a Text, Ninth Century Spain

Shmita or the Seven-Year Itch

Watching Over the Body


The Autopsy, a Love Poem

Big Sue

Interior at Paddington

Animal under the Clothes

Benefits Supervisor Sleeping

Evening in the Studio

Girl with a Kitten

Painter’s Mother Resting III

Queen Elizabeth II

Painter’s Mother IV 

Pomme d’Amour

Something in the Water


The Secret Life of Bridges

Fire Season

Admiral Nimitz

What Is This Fear that Comes from Silence?

On a Suburban Street

The Motorbikes


Playing Skachi in Siberia

Stumbling onto the Stolpersteine Project, Berlin

First Wife

Nothing Left to Do


Master Class



About the Author


Carol V. Davis is the author of Between Storms (Truman State University Press, 2012) and won the 2007 T. S. Eliot Prize for Into the Arms of Pushkin: Poems of St. Petersburg (TSUP). It’s Time to Talk About was published in a bilingual English/Russian edition (Symposium, Russia (1997).

Twice a Fulbright scholar in Russia, Davis has taught in Michigan and Russia, and now teaches at Santa Monica College and Antioch University, Los Angeles. In winter 2015, she taught in Ulan-Ude, Buryatia Republic, Siberia. Her poetry has been read on NPR, Radio Russia, and she has read at the Library of Congress.


These poems are filled with premonition, prophecy, and shadow. The persona, confronted with ominous images emanating from the real and the imaginary—such as raucous crows, threatening moon, visitations sprouting wings—moves through various landscapes that threaten and beckon at the same time. These poems travel, and travel well. The ride is one you will remember and want to take again.

—Jim Barnes, author of Visiting Picasso and On a Wing of the Sun

The obligation of the poet is to help us make sense of what we do not know, do not believe, or cannot understand. Carol V. Davis’ Because I Cannot Leave This Body rather miraculously accomplishes all of these in poems both accessible and illuminating. This marvelous collection is part wisdom, part recollection, part explanation, part confession, part prayer, part journey. Davis takes us to Nebraska, Spain, Russia, California, and most importantly, to that interior country we never cease exploring. Ultimately, this book is a profound love letter to the relationship between language and the world we all travel through. It will make you never want to leave your body.

—Dean Rader, author of Self-Portrait as Wikipedia Entry

In her fine new book of poems, Because I Cannot Leave This Body, Carol V. Davis explores her inner world and the course of her wide-ranging travels. She is drawn to her Jewish roots both by family history—as the “granddaughter of immigrants fed on mistrust and shadows”—and her study of ancient texts. Her poems move from California to Wyoming, from Moscow to St. Petersburg, from Berlin to Beijing, driven by an uneasy sense of the dangers of life. “Predicting Weather,” one of Davis’ most characteristic poems, juxtaposes a violent hailstorm in Nebraska and an earthquake in her native Los Angeles, ending with a sharply observed “moment of stunned beauty / before the crash of porcelain on tile.” A challenging and rewarding read.

      —Chana Bloch, author of Swimming in the Rain: New & Selected Poems, 1980–2015