The Blossoming Dark

Jon Davis


The glance was everywhere, humming among the projected desires — houses bulging with goods, Russian sage showering the afternoon with lavender blossoms, moon turning full and beautiful in our desperation.

This idea that the world was birthed from our needs. The IEDs and iPods. The grommets and silks. The Great Philosophers of the Twentieth Century. Potted meat. Post Office. The reconstructed woman sliding upside down, red heels wrapped around a silver pole.

The glance tangled in the trumpet vine. The vine itself. The music it wanted to make. An orange music. Thin as a wire. Where were they taking us? What bother laced our foreheads? What dialect of money would they speak there?


In Hanoi, thousands of wires spanned the emptiness, the panoply, the indeterminate universe, the wicked excess, the unaccountable plenty, as when we traveled from floor to floor gathering crustaceans, noodles, ribs, chicken wings, eel, pho.

As when we flipped through propaganda posters from The American War. As when the rain fell, relentlessly, on the Temple of Literature.


When the man and his three year old daughter sat in meditation in Wat Phnom, the daughter tilted her head back and rolled her eyes to see me and smile.

When the fire swept through the room. When the angers were extruded, the signals disrupted—alternately here is the latest from and cold front and pit bull impounded.

When the lights began going out in the valley, a wave of darkness rolled toward us.

When the computer screen in the empty room flared and dimmed, flared and dimmed.

When the gong.

When the colonial hotel. Vase. Single yellow flower. Mahogany paneling. A water glass, sweating. White petals floating in it.


In Cambodia, all the poets were princes, composing new lyrics to the old songs, all the elections rigged.

The monetary policy presided over the charred bones of the poor. Lined the coffins of the wealthy.

A new word to avoid the inconvenience. A new crawl of language. An angle from which to see into the incontrovertible. A scope. A bead. A glance. A certain inevitability in the book depository.

Nobody ever said what they did up there. Book depository. Grassy knoll. A thousand wires. How could anyone know where the error was, especially now that the fines had exceeded the value of the items themselves.

It’s time, the man said, to just get some weapons and take some shit.


At Angkor Wat you could trace the history from ornate Hindu to austere Buddhism and back. Back and forth they went. Answering not to truth but to power.

At dusk, we scrabbled among the rubble, the huge stone Buddhas, smiling then glowering then perfectly impassive in the blossoming dark.

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