Photo by Bill Pratt
No Vile Thing is the third volume in the four-part series Opening King David, consisting of meditations on the Psalms. The poems in this new collection, which are by turns questioning, reverent, lyrical and witty, have elicited high praise. Mary Oliver has stated that “Brad Davis’ poems are modest and intense at the same time. His subject – all of us, and all things, considered as they are, sorrowful and joyful, and as they might be – invites us to remember the old irreplaceable story of our making: its divinity, its possibility. No Vile Thing is in every way a comfort, a reminder, and a prod.” Robert Siegel adds this: “Taking his cue from short phrases in the Psalms, Brad Davis honestly probes matters of faith, doubt, sorrow, and joy, as well as a wide range of experiences in between. In a voice both colloquial and eloquent, deceptively clear and direct, he describes an ecstasy that is never sentimental and grief for a world where ‘all things tend toward suffering and diminishment.’There is no flinching from sorrow, and yet hope not only endures but prevails. The poet asks, ‘If we cannot sing for joy, why sing?’ These are philosophically sophisticated poems that have a warm and vulnerable heart. Cover - No Vile ThingThey reach out to the reader and take him into the poet’s thoughtful and intimate confidence. ‘What Holds Us Back,’ for one, is a stunning poem about the Incarnation that should be widely anthologized. It has the force of Herbert’s famous ‘Love III,’ and is, like that poem, about our absurd hesitations in the face of incomprehensible love. These are poems of a life both well-lived and examined, and reward us – almost before we realize it – with wisdom.”

Brad Davis is from San Diego, California. He has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has taught at The Stony Brook School (NY), Eastern Connecticut State University, the College of the Holy Cross (MA), and Pomfret School (CT) where he was the founding editor of Broken Bridge Review and the Broken Bridge Folio Series. His own poems have appeared in The Paris Review, Poetry, DoubleTake, Image, Michigan Quarterly Review, Tar River Poetry, Connecticut Review, Puerto del Sol, Ascent, and other journals. In 1995, a poem of his won an AWP Intro Journal Award; in 2005, his chapbook Short List of Wonders won the Sunken Garden Poetry Prize (selected by Dick Allen); and in 2009, a poem of his won the IAM (International Arts Movement) Poetry Award (selected by Brett Lott). Brad is married to Deb; they have a son John who lives with his wife Mariko in Brooklyn (NY).

Click here to read a major review of all four books in the Opening King David series, published in the journal Christianity & Literature, Summer 2009.

Click here to read four sample poems.

Click here to view Brad Davis’ upcoming events.

Click here to read ancillary material in the Seminar Room.

For other books in the Opening King David series, see the Antrim House catalog.


ISBN: 978-0-9792226-9-6
64 pages
6" x 9" paperback

Begin the music, strike the tambourine.
Psalm 81:2


Which is not as immediate as, say, supper
or as titillating as chicks or fame,
but in a sad world where, no matter how well
we eat or fuck or preen, all things
tend toward suffering and diminishment,
maybe there’s nothing better to sing for
than such joy as may buoy us up,
return us to a “right mind.”
Provided there is something to rise or
return to, without which we face, at best, a long
and inconsequential fiction
with no possible happy ending,
no hope of reinstatement,
no royal lover of souls to take us back.
Broken and bitter as we are,
if we cannot sing for joy, why sing?
To show how clever we can be? How much
better than trees at making meaningless noise?

I am set apart with the dead.
Psalm 88:5


When I sit still in my office for ten minutes,
the lights turn themselves off. I love being

overlooked first by the lights’ motion sensors,
then by those who assume I would not choose

to sit alone in a darkened room. They pass by
looking for me elsewhere. I do not care

to be seen by anyone. I am never tempted to wave
an arm and trip the affirmational switch.

Invisibility suits me. I enjoy imagining others
deciding I must be out sick or on an errand

or that I finally delivered on my threat: to buy
a one-way bus ticket anywhere south and west

of this office in this suburban private school
where, several times a day, I make the lights go out.

Worship at his holy mountain.
Psalm 99:9


Blackcombe, BC

Delivered by chairlift, surrounded
by sundeck and sitting at a walnut-
stained picnic table, I had come
for the rugged, rock-peaked horizon
of the Coastal Range – and now
these ten centimeters of overnight snow.
Did I say it was July? And yet
what snuck up and claimed my attention?
A black she-bear who lumbered
into the clearing just below the summit cafe,
her snout probing the slope’s rough-cut
grasses and low shrubs for anything edible.
It is one thing to approach large nature
telescopically, quite another
to have large nature take an interest
in your cheeze nachos.
I had re-read the tourist’s wildlife guide
and listened closely to the day-hike staffer
review the likelihood of encounter:
what to do if.... when.... Hey, I’m good
with possibilities that lack a pulse
or body temperature, the hypothetical carnivore
that hasn’t dirty claws or yellow teeth;
when you consider her
there’s nothing categorical in her eyes.
But what looked up at my nachos, at me, then
back at my nachos was neither hypothetical
nor some toothless stunt bear in a carnival sideshow.
And as she rose on her hind quarters
for a better look at my six dollar snack,
I felt the universe, in a calm, subsonic whisper,
invite my participation in the practice
of nonattachment. Never
more motivated to be spiritual,
I lifted slowly the flimsy white paper bowl out
over the edge of the sundeck – a deal
is a deal – and tipped it, releasing a clumped
wad of corn chips into thin, mountaintop air.

I will have nothing to do with evil.
Psalm 101:4


At a sister boarding school, lice: body, head,
and pubis. One rich girl’s dreads infested,

they estimated, with maybe two thousand
resilient nits per natty lock. Her daddy had her

driven to a clinic where, once shorn and shaved,
they dipped her, so I heard, in malathion.

Though inconvenient and socially embarrassing,
it is not difficult to delouse a human body.

Foul surfaces, too, can be scraped, scoured, white-
washed, stripped, bleached, repainted. There’s hope

for soulless things, nothing a little money
and cleverness can’t cook up to restore a right

appearance for whatever has lost its sheen.
But what of those who long for more

than just a reclamation of unseemly exteriors?
For, say, the ripping of envy from a heart

or for such love as is quick to take measures
sufficient to cure a soul? The girl’s body

will return to a dorm room made new, the clean form
return to function. And what then? What bath

to restore the good dream: such high regard
for all things, all people, that we may see God?

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