John Urban Davis

With fur and teeth and tweezers

When I awoke, the man in white was already plucking. one at a time. with a tiny pair of tweezers glittering, my hands bound steaming buried in a bed of metal beetles skittering as the man in white hovers and plucks one by one the hair from my head, my chest, my sex and each little pluck reminding me of the naked animal that twists beneath my clothes, held up by the wiry lining of my trapezius, doral flexal, The blossoming fichus in the corner, The mirror rasping over the sink, The polished wooden floor reflecting the hairless face of the man in white – and yes, the cracks in floor where my fur prick by prick unwinds – fills to the foundation, crawling for the walls, a prick from my shoulder, a prick from my head, with the beetles crawling on me from the bed. The vein cracked porcelain on the shelf, the main split wicks of the candles in the sink, and my fur boiling from the floorboards, rising, my father shaving on Sundays before church, my face-first plant into his chest with fury, my mouth-full gulp of his wool carpet fur like the crusty musk of motel carpet stick, and my hair like my father’s course dense unforgiving – It fills my mouth like honeysuckle could, the man plucks my hair like my father would, with a hard persistence and a broken body, daddy, are you trying to break me like a man should? strip by strip, prick by prick. Teach me how a mouth full of hair can stifle a sob, how a body drenched in fur can make you a man, how daddy would never call me as such – but look how the plucking, you see, will teach me to better be his animal.


When I awoke, I had grown a second head-- Such a gruesome thing – with a face like mine sinking into the back of my skull, I roll over to the boy next to me – It’s criminal how he looks in the morning light -- slices of sunlight draped across his body. The first danger of pretty boys – is that they’re pretty. He twists in the sheets – turns to me – smiles. My second face has a name like mine We’ll call it love – it loves this boy, this beautiful boy – the constellation of freckles across his chest, the milky pool of his eyes. Of course, the face my father gave me could never love something so clean, could never smile wider than a paper cut, so of course — I needed another face. I have a gift for you he whispers. He puts a rusty saw in my hand. He says Only if you love me, I do. I love with the misplaced optimism of the doomed. It’s harder than I thought I would be— With a jerk I begin the work-- a hack, a sputter – the smoking slaughter of the seething split – sawing at my second head, the pith and shriek of the thing as I busied my hands, my arms howling – broken with the toil of the work. Mercy mercy I plea to the boy, Won’t you take this off my hands? I’m a delicate creature not suited for such work. He sighs but darling, don’t I just love it when you work up a sweat and my arms, of course, continue to mow, the face smokes like a velvet cello-- it rips from its foundations, the spindle fibers splitting with a slump -- tumbles to the bed a wadded mess – a tawdry burden, and I thanked him – can you believe that? The boy laughs It’s all I’ve ever wanted drifts out the door, his feet never touching the ground leaving me to swaddle my dear tender fodder alone.


Josh Urban Davis was born in Cut 'n Shoot, TX. His writing has appeared in The Althea and Glass Mountain. He is the winner of the 2015 Robertson prize for poetry. His visual work has been displayed at DiverseWorks, Lawndale Art Center, and The Blaffer Gallery. He enjoys tea with tarot, drunk drag queens, and ghost stories told by candlelight. Currently, he is a student at the University of Houston where he studies computer science.