Peninsula Poetry: Thomas Davis

Thomas Davis as an educator, environmentalist and writer. He works in many genres – fiction, playwriting and poetry – and in August was recognized in the Wisconsin People & Ideas annual writing contest with an honorable mention for his poem “Gaia’s Song.” 

Davis’s latest work is In the Unsettled Homeland of Dreams, a historical novel published by All Things That Matter Press about the black fisher community that settled in West Harbor of Washington Island before the Civil War. He has published six other books, including A Dragon Epic (Bennison Books, UK) and Sustaining the Forest, the People, and the Spirit (SUNY Press). An epic poem, The Weirding; a second epic poem, An American Spirit; and three novels are in print as well. He has also edited an anthology, The Zuni Mountain Poets, and two of his plays have been produced by small theater groups.  

In addition to writing, Davis has been the president or chief academic officer of five tribal colleges and universities in the U.S. As a member of the tribal college movement, he helped to found the World Indigenous Higher Education Consortium and is an advocate for using STEM education to generate economic-development opportunities in poor communities. 

Davis and his artist/poet wife, Ethel, have mostly retired and live in Sturgeon Bay. 

About the Rhyming of Love

Our fathers died, and then your mother left

And took a train ride to her resting place.

There are no words for senses left bereft

The moment living left our son’s good face.

Our love was glory when it first began to bloom.

We walked brown hills and felt the sky breathe light —

You took your hesitant, unlikely groom

And gave him more of life than was his right.

The days of work and turmoil, gladness, stress,

Have slowed us down and made us feel our years

As separateness has ground against the press

Of love through joyous days and bitter tears.

From gnarling roots of memories and time,

Love forges symphonies of changing rhyme.

Peninsula Poetry is a monthly column curated by the Door County Poets Collective, a 12-member working group that was formed to publish Soundings: Door County in Poetry (Caravaggio Press, 2015) and continues to meet.