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PoetrySnaps! Austin Davis: 'We Call it Grief'

Austin Davis

PoetrySnaps! alumnus Austin Davis returns to the show this week. From a young age, Davis learned to channel his emotions through poetry writing and performance. He often writes through the lens of his work as an activist for people experiencing homelessness. With the holidays upon us – a time of reflection and gratitude - Davis celebrates some of the people he has known and loved in his poem, "we call it grief."

Austin Davis: I really fell in love with reading when I was a kid, reading everything I could find ever since I was five or six years old. From there, I really fell in love with writing. I started to read poets and fiction writers that really connected with me, and I loved that idea. It felt like a certain magic to me that you could create this story or this thing that across time and space someone else could pick up and feel something. That always felt like magic to me.

The first time I ever performed, it was end of the year of seventh grade at this end of the year showcase for a creative writing class. And no one showed up! Not even the parents. And everyone was super upset, like, the four kids who were there. But then we just ended up sharing poems to each other and I think that was the first time I realized this is valuable in any space. This is valuable if it’s just me and my friends sharing our stories. That is valid and beautiful. It’s also just as valid and beautiful to perform in front of a thousand people.

So, this is a poem called "we call it grief. "I wrote this poem earlier this year. I’d gone through a break-up and I was processing and really feeling the loss of a lot of people that I’ve cared about and loved who’ve died on the streets this year. It’s definitely one of the hardest parts of the human experience to lose someone you love. That’s kind of the inspiration for this poem.

we call it grief

when sadness
has settled

u told me once
that if u love someone
u’ll never stop loving them

& i agree
but if u lose someone
u’ll never stop losing them

some days are almost

at the circle k down the street
i hold the door
for a woman talking on the phone

she doesn’t look
at me
but the cashier does

so we make conversation
as if communication is a song

& i’ve brought a cello
& she’s learning the flute

on my walk back to the apartment
i eat my donut & drink my beer

no one is nodded out
at the bus stop

& i’d like to think
that all the firetrucks
are still at their stations
this afternoon

today u don’t show up
in the form of a crisis

but i know
you’re still out here

maybe today
ur just the mosquito bite
on my arm

or the echo of a gunshot
a few blocks away

the pain in my chest
before i fall asleep

those headaches i get
when the afternoon lives late

and it’s still light out when it should be dark

About the poet:

Austin Davis is a Phoenix-based poet, musician and the founder of AZ HUGS For the Houseless, an outreach project addressing loneliness among people experiencing homelessness. He is the author of two poetry collections.

PoetrySnaps! airs the first and third Friday of each month.

About the host:
Steven Law is the co-producer of KNAU’s series PoetrySnaps! He is a poet, essayist, storyteller, and the author of Polished, a collection of poems about exploring the Colorado Plateau by foot and by raft.

About the music:
Original music by Flagstaff-based band Pilcrowe.

Steven Law was the co-producer of KNAU’s series PoetrySnaps!
Gillian Ferris was the News Director and Managing Editor for KNAU.