“if i’ve learned 1 thing in this life

anything can feel like a metaphor

if you’re scared enough”

— from Lotus & Insomnia

Lotus & the Apocalypse by Austin Davis is the result of a poet unashamed to tear through life’s hardest questions to find where universal fear reckons with human tenacity. Lotus, Davis tells us, is someone he doesn’t know but is someone we can all hold a mirror up to and see ourselves reflected. Love, heartbreak, mental illness, drug use, fear and loneliness are yokes of the human experience as much as they are themes in Lotus & the Apocolypse. Through all of these, Davis writes a thoughtful and authentic portrayal of one’s last day on earth and asks us to consider the same. 

Lotus & the Apocalypse is grounded in vulnerability from every direction. Davis opens the book with “The World Will End Tonight,” which I felt was twofold in that it was at once a mirror and a doorway into the coming poems. Despite the poem’s naturally doomed tone, Davis masterfully roots readers into the inevitabile beauty of nature even as the world is threatened with its end, “Kiss me soft / as the clouds peel away / from the sun like dark yellow apple skins.” Davis, through Lotus, reminds us that there is still love and meaning to be discovered even if the world is coming down around us. 

I have several favorite poems in the book, but “Lotus & Summer” sings the loudest to me. In this poem, Lotus is sad and asks for the kitchen floor. I love that this poem feels like winter under a title reminiscing summer. It’s a testament to all of us holding depression and joy in both hands, to everyone that has ever felt their world could end before the sun goes down. The lines “god is churning us in his hands like wet clay / hoping his universe will resemble something / of a vase after it leaves the kiln // a hearty soup or an electric blanket might just kill me” depict a desire for atypical comfort. Lotus is anyone who favors cold kitchen tiles before a hug and feels distraction is as good a medicine as any. 

According to his bio, Austin Davis got high one night and wrote Lotus & the Apocalypse, and frankly, we thank him for it. Davis holds in his hands an understanding for the diversity of emotion like it’s the fragile globe of a dandelion ready for wishes. He asks readers in the beginning how we would feel if this was our last day on earth and doesn’t let us feel ashamed about our answers. Lotus & the Apocalypse is for all of us walking on a tightrope in a world that can end before our feet remember the ground. 

“It’s dreamy and sad

to fly through the night

with your heart pounding in your throat,

ears ringing like church bells,

vision swimming under salt water.” (Lotus & Honesty)

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