“Truth Procedure #1.” A Poem by Olena Kalytiak Davis

From Late Summer Ode

October 3, 2022  By Olena Kalytiak Davis

Go to New York.
Stay with your friends.
Meet with your friends.
Drink with your friends.
Marijuana and cocaine with your friends.
Nobu with your friends and farm-to-table Chinese with your
Zara and Uniqlo with one of your friends, your female friend.
Listen to your friends. All of them unhappy
with their girlfriends, wives, boyfriends, husbands, lives.
Two of your married friends want to sleep with each other, but
One night you get really drunk and maybe do.
Sleep with one of your friends.
It’s okay, you can forget about it, don’t tell anybody.
It was and it wasn’t awful. It was just stupid. It really didn’t
Another night you get really drunk and end up at a table of not
your friends.
Even the loud (one quiet sexy) black dudes turn out to be boring.
Yes, you did and said stupid things in New York.
You know this pretty well, it is up in your throat and down in
your stomach, but it is also already becoming hazy.
Next time, you will do better, make arrangements to meet other
artist friends, different friends, less known friends, and see more
(You did go to Dia Beacon).
Next time you will have more longer lasting memorable fun and
discussions and really look at
the art and not keep wondering how old you look, how dumb you
how broken, how alone.
Your heart will not ache at how they speak
to these girlfriends, to these husbands:
O familiar, I have just now forgotten to hate you. You will forget
you forget you once had this.
Next time
you will also prepare more effectively for your obligations, like
lectures at NYU, so you don’t have to re-give them repeatedly and
more successfully
in your head while you are running.
I mean, you didn’t even use what you had.
It was supposed to be like an episode of This American Life.
You were supposed to start off with the quote from Keats’s letters
that you were fingering for a while now: I feel in myself all the
vices of a Poet, irritability, love of effect and admiration . . . But
you couldn’t do it, and influenced by such devils I may at times
say more ridiculous things than I am aware of cause
Lahiri and the Oscar Wao guy who you love but can’t bring up
his name right now and wish he was sexier and better built and
then, maybe, with you, were all hanging there, in that back room,
and Jonathan Lethem was there next, really, Jonathan Lethem
next door and suddenly, your diatribe on the desire for fame
and accolades and the necessity of a life, a daily practice, seemed
wrong, too simple, too revealing of what you did not have, of how
little you learned in twenty years, but I will put a stop to that in
a manner I have long resolved upon
  how you can’t even tell if
something uses a flexible hendecasyllabic meter I will buy a gold
ring and put it on my finger—and from that time a Man of superior
head shall not have occasion to pity me, or one of inferior Nunskull
to chuckle at me
  Who can? You were supposed to tell them
exactly how you didn’t get the grant you so needed to survive this
summer. Exactly how the judges were so stupid. Instead, you were
stupid. are.
You faked it and it sucked. You sucked.
Now you know, now you know.
And each friend fit their form.
And each disappointed you in their own exact this friend-that-I-
love way.
They can do it, why can’t you? I am certainly more for greatness
in a Shade than in the open day—I am speaking as a mortal—I
should say I value more of the Priviledge of seeing great things in
loneliness—than the fame of a prophet—yet here I am sinning…

Forty nine years to feel nostalgia,
fifty to get regret, these lines are for Rachel Zucker,
Deborah Landau, Catherine Barnett.


late summer ode

“Truth Procedure #1” from Late Summer Ode, copyright 2022 by Olena Kalytiak Davis, used by permission of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.

Olena Kalytiak Davis
Olena Kalytiak Davis
Olena Kalytiak Davis is a first-generation Ukrainian-American who was born and raised in Detroit. Educated at Wayne State University, the University of Michigan Law School, and Vermont College, she is the author of three books of poetry, including And Her Soul Out of Nothing (University of Wisconsin Press 1997), which received the Brittingham Prize in poetry. Davis’s honors include a Pushcart Prize and the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. She currently works as a lawyer in Anchorage, Alaska.

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