Bleed Through – the title’s ambiguity is characteristic Michael Davidson. The book’s cover images suggest that “bleed through” is probably a noun – the name of a printed text that has “bled through” to the other side of the paper to become awkwardly and somewhat differently visible there. It could thus be a metaphor for his selected poems – poems strong enough to ‘bleed’ into this collection from Davidson’s earlier volumes -- along with a makeshift pasted-on title and authorname. It could also be a metaphor for various language usages, the ones that Davidson and ourselves live among, having ‘bled’ into his poems and book. In a poetics statement that his publisher has distributed a part of a press package he writes that
“palimptext” ... seems an appropriate descriptor for my own poetry insofar as I try to engage with ghost texts clamoring to enter the writing. Those voices may derive from popular genres, overheard conversations, other poems, or the daily newspaper. As such, they are embedded in a social world, each with its own specific zones of resonance ....
Out of the bunker slash shelter target
brown lumps of hair and matted clothing
on stretchers, red brown, red orange
what distinguishes the body
without a word from other bodies
is a lolling of flesh, head hanging
over the edge
while all around bodies tensed with purpose
lift, point, and dig; cut to Cheney
cut to Neal behind rostrum, cut to
commander in the field saying his
words; go lonely verse ...
(“Screens, 2/12/91,” 196)
Davidson’s signature technique in recent years has been the ironic deployment of familiar