Adam Clay


Blind Alphabet: B

Rocks inside a cupped hand. Pebble or pond
In order of importance?
                                      One holds water,
the other pushes the flow towards a lamb carcass;
                                    Like wine that hath taken wind
And hollows a hole in the sand, the pond
Dries up to a puddle no one watches.
The Unknown of the seasons
Remains inside a nest on a curving limb.
The holding of something
Is the Unknown that can be known.
                                      Woods haue their eares,
And fields their eyes; so apt, and able is euery place
To detect close villanie.

Blind Alphabet: C

Nothing funny—a farewell to the ocean’s sound and seaweed.
Oceans are not like knifes—
                                                 Seas sever
Bodies from bodies, bodies from the sweat
They brought into being.
From the sweat,
                             an altar can be made.
From the altar, a boulder-size bundle of sacrificial bones
Left from a curving hill where a road stems off into the trees
Before it drops. Under the altar is salty water.
Under the salty water
                                     is a cuticle of moon.
Like boats, the rocks floated between the pillows of thunder.
A soul’s true angle is best seen reflected on stretched skin.

Blind Alphabet: T

A dove without legs, a mouth without salt.
Dancing, smashing bones of the dead,
Pressing lips to windows without fault—
Faults decay quicker, cleaner than deeds
Turned repeatedly on a spit.
Black-necked swans fly the pattern of a square
In the sky. They have a pleasant disposition,
Well-suited for keeping in the garden.
Design, when hindering, sterilizes the air
And the taste of broth or alum
Replaces that of a glazed stare
Or a tongue turned by a lemon.
The monks’ feet stained violet from grapes
And briars, the tangled cuts from serrated blades.

Blind Alphabet: Y

One retina loose: a man in a blue-back chair
Ponders the rats walking up the backs of the walls.
A bowl in the shape of a bell.
Vision flurries fly across his good-eye’s stare
Like bones thrown from a telephone-box.                  
At the same time, a plane skips
Across the ground, stops near a burning pile of leaves,
doesn’t make a boy flinch or scare
As he shoves a Locust Tree twig into the body
Of a dead bird. Stink glints the air
Like soap losing its form
In the shower. Boys are supposed to climb trees.
Old men cough, tremble, and murmur
Sighs when they start to smell their own skin.

Author's comment: The Blind Alphabet sequence was loosely influenced from an interview in jubilat about Willem Boshoff that I read on an airplane last year. His idea of using art to reverse roles appealed to me on several levels and these poems were written with some of his ideas threaded beneath them.

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Adam Clay lives in Northwest Arkansas and is thinking about baseball. His work is forthcoming in The Styles and 88.