Reversal Spells in Blue and Black

by Joshua Davis
Seven Kitchens Press, 2022

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"Reversal Spells in Blue and Black is a remarkable achievement not only for the spidersilk tenderness of each poem individually, but for the quilt of a hurt but healing person's life those poems create when read as a whole. Davis' command of the recurring image, the structure of stanza and line is evident even and especially in the smallest of these verses. Though lyric beauty and flights of abstraction lead the language, a story emerges quietly - the story of a hurt child who became a man, the ghosts we keep trying to put back into their graves, the way they clutch our ankles as we walk away from them into our own futures. And then again, there's a hope here: how death with all its traumas can sometimes be the gift that finally allows us to tell the stories of our lives, at last in our own words."

—Katie Bickham, author of Mouths Open to Name Her

"These elegant and haunting spells summon the speaker’s mother so that she might keep the speaker safe, cast spells with him, hold his hand, rewrite their story. Mother is both comforter and sorceress, ever-present and deeply absent. Davis uses ancient meters and syntactical rhythms to stunning effects. In these poems everything that was closed opens: the sky, the peacocks, the past, the speaker’s heart, the future, the doors. Everything is open and everything is empty, and the reader will willingly fall into the cauldron."

—Terry Ann Thaxton, author of Mud Song