Donna Davis

Department Store Mannequins


. . . look terminally serious,

lips pursed, mouths pouting slightly

with corners turned inward.

They seldom smile

or display the smallest pleasure,

even when meticulously dressed

in the most sublime couture.

One hand is on the tilted hip

to show off the flow of fabric;

cheekbones flat and thin

without the fleshy apples

that tempt eyes away

from the neutrality of brand.

Lackluster, emotionless,

sometimes headless or abstract;

no delight or euphoria here.

After all, smiling mannequins

might scare customers

if they flashed teeth,

seemed to be eavesdropping,

or appeared to have an opinion

about the cut of a cardigan.

Mannequins have nothing to say

but everything to show,

with their blank runway stares

fixed on some obscure,

indifferent world

that reflects our own.



Removing the Wallpaper


She’s scraping, scraping,

wondering who did this,

whose hands set traps for her,

whose bad taste caused

a conflagration of orange mums

to engulf the bedroom walls.


Will she ever peel away

this gaudy scrollwork

emblazoned with thumbprints

and flecks of red crayon?

Time has burned its emblem

into the garish flowers—

an umbra oily with hair gel

from her careless ex-husband

who read magazines in bed.


Hours pass; the room

is a mess of wet petals;

her shoes stiff with glue.

She will not be satisfied

until paste melts to the floor,

fresh paint is spread on plaster,

and her new life begins

with the stroke of a fiery brush.



Donna Davis


Donna M. Davis is a native of central New York. A former English and creative writing instructor, she currently owns a résumé writing and book design business. Her poetry has been published in Third Wednesday, Pudding Magazine, Slipstream Review, Poecology, Carcinogenic Magazine, The Centrifugal Eye, Red River Review, Ilya’s Honey, Gingerbread House, Red Fez, Oddball Magazine, Aberration Labyrinth, Halcyon Days Magazine, The Comstock Review, and others. She was a special merit winner and finalist in several of The Comstock Review’s national awards contests.


Now, Then

I’m fifty years ago, at a party, drinking a martini and smoking a cigarette.  I’m wearing my suit and tie and idly listening to little pieces of three different conversations.  Wasn’t West Side Story a wonderful movie?  How about the new president and his promise to have a man on the moon by decade’s end?  Is there going to be a problem with this place suddenly appearing in the newspapers, this Vietnam wherever it is?  People are dancing and the room is thick and warm.  My martini is wonderfully cold and bitter.  Someone puts a different record on the phonograph.  They turn the music up loud.

I’m there and also here with you half a century later at the edge of a vast and darkened field.  Rain has come and gone and we smell wet grass and a hint of autumn.  If the clouds clear we’ll see the first of the evening stars.  The wind blows itself out and the night grows still.  A few minutes ago something unpleasant happened between us and we came out to the field because a little fresh air might wash the anger from our souls.  I can’t tell if anything has gotten better.  Maybe I’ve calmed down, but the truth is I am confused.

You’re here with me and the field stretches out ahead and those clouds aren’t getting any thinner and a drop of rain just hit my cheek and everything about us is vague and uncertain.  The field is a continuation of the argument started back at the house.  You hate how my mind forever wanders to somewhere far away.  You want to know why I can’t change that about myself and the answer is there on my lips and at the same time is not.



Joel Best

Joel Best has published in venues such as Atticus Online, decomP, Crack the Spine and Blaze Vox. He lives in upstate New York with his wife and son.

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