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SHJ Issue 6
Fall 2012

[Poems + Reviews and More]

by Steve Davenport

Sauget Dead Wagon

Down to Sauget and all that hell
The bodies come the bodies go 
Carrying things from fall to fell 

To ashes ashes ring the bell
Dead wagon going coming slow 
Down to Sauget and all that hell

Yellow grease bone chips a smell 
A body never wants to know 
Carrying things from fall to fell

Who cares what doesn’t render well 
Until the wind begins to blow 
Down to Sauget and all that hell

Dead wagon’s coming to sell 
The bodies it picked high and low
Carrying things from fall to fell

I say fuck this villanelle 
That can’t stop what’s got to go 
Down to Sauget and all that hell 
Carrying things from fall to fell

Misty Publications (July 2012)
 NOTE: Overpass is available only through the publisher.

Poet’s Commentary

A key thread running through my new book of poems, OVERPASS, is the plight of a character dealing with metastatic breast cancer. Her name’s Overpass Girl. The poem I’m posting here [“Sauget Dead Wagon”] comes late in the book and expresses the frustration and anger that accompanies her battle against a disease that will not let go. It also expresses mine as author whose work has limited effect. A dead wagon, by the way, is a common name given to the vehicle that travels the countryside, picking up carcasses of farm animals, and delivers them to a rendering plant.

—From a Facebook post dated 5 July 2012


Additional Selections

• Appears in As It Ought To Be (December 2010):

The Sestina Has Been Sinking

• Appears in Arsenic Lobster Poetry Journal, Issue 23 (Summer 2010):

Art Times
Consumer Reports (1)
Consumer Reports (2)
Midwest Living

• Appears in Verse Daily (22 September 2008):

Popular Science


From the Back Cover

“Steve Davenport has taken the slapdash lexicon of a mortally wounded industrial base and stitched, jammed, jumbled and creased together this searing collaboration of form and function.”

—Tyehimba Jess

“...brilliantly improvisatory as well as stunningly energetic and daring.”

—B. H. Fairchild

Overpass creates a startling and delightful tension between its richly gritty content and a craft that crashes through its own formal restraints with deft use of wordplay, syntax, allusion, and joyful sound.”

—Martha Collins


Full Review

• Appears in Prick of the Spindle, Vol. 6.2 (June 2012):

“Davenport takes it on, love and grief, shared suffering, the blues, and connects the personal story of Overpass Girl to changes and losses along the floodplain of the Mississippi River....
“Dark as these poems are, they are also full of word play and plenty of fun. They conquer the fear of death and pain with joy and rhyme. The repetitions in a villanelle can be a kind of morphine....”
—Kathleen Kirk, The Poetry Cheerleader


And More...

Nine Poems and Three Fictions

A chapbook published online by The Literary Review, which includes several poems from Overpass

• Two stories from the “Black Guy, Bald Guy” series:

Black Guy, Bald Guy
The Last Set of Machetes

• A story from a novel-in-progress: “Bomb, Reporting From Inwit”

How to Write a Song: Part I

An essay in Industrial Worker Book Review (July 2012):
“Once I had a sorrow in the long middle of a stroke. Poet loses his place. Syllable, saddle. Says Humpty Dumpty without words. Hickory Dickory Doc says to poet’s wife your husband’s caught in a stroke. In the middle somewhere falling. Away.”

Live and Local with Kevin Kelly

Illinois musician Bruce “Bruiser” Rummenie and poet Steve Davenport talk about songwriting and share a live sampling of their newly released collaborative CD, This Noise in My Blood (5 October 2012)
(This segment of the podcast begins at 26:19.)

A Night of the Longknives

Eric Miles Williamson reviews Davenport’s first book of poems, Uncontainable Noise:
“Steve Davenport writes like Charles Bukowski might have written if he’d had more talent or been able to hold his liquor better....
“[This] is a book I’d recommend for the National Book Critics Circle Award if I were still on the Board, and it’s also a book I’d have given to my gas-station-attendant father. It’s a book poets will either be jealous of or admire....”
—Appears in “Industrial Strength,” Industrial Worker Book Review (June 2012)
“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury