Poems by Chey Davis
Binge Press, 2009

Published as part of Binge Press’s Bite Marks Series, a series that spotlights violence against women, Chey Davis's Collection opens with an introduction from the author, which begins: "This book is about words.  Words used for naming, for laying blame, for reclaiming life and dismembered limbs." This short collection of poetry consists of twenty-two poems surrounding similar themes as the voice of the poems, a woman, struggles with things that have happened to her, struggles with her place in the world, and struggles against her self.

Dedicated to "those who cannot speak," the book wrestles with this idea of silence and breaking that silence to come to terms with abuse.  "Memory," the second poem in the book, asks, "What is wrong with me that I open - / open - / for such treatment?" and counters, "You say that I am a child / and cannot know."  The poem ends on a heartbreaking note as the speaker acknowledges the lesson learned and frankly states, "Of that, we can be sure. / She can be taught." In learning her lesson, she has lost part of herself, an idea revisited in "Lots of Things": 

Lessons (hear the "less" in that word),
Lessons, learning, re – ally – zation,
beliefs and disbeliefs race past your head
like so many magpies,
screaming the virtues
of this shining thing or that?

Throughout Collection the language is direct, but confused at times.  There is a lot of back-and-forth, push-and-pull as the speaker wrestles with ideas, like in the poem "Amble":

it is very difficult to be not of
and yet from and where and who are
you and can I touch your hair and
what do you believe

because I go here and there and I
see and say yes of course that it seems
correct but they are right, aren't they and
universal, yes?

This confusion, self-exploration, and questioning go hand-in-hand with the experience of victimhood.  The speaker turns in on herself, blames herself, learns to hate herself, remains silent, and then finally learns to break the silence, comes to terms with what happened, and learns to love herself and love and trust others again. Collection charts this important passage that too many people in our society must go through, and one that not everyone makes it through.

Chey Davis is a Saginaw-based poet and an English instructor at Delta College.  To find out more information about her book and the Bite Marks Series, check out Binge Press at

© Gina Myers, 2009