From “Blind Alphabet”

by 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.

Adam Clay lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas and co-edits Typo Magazine. He has work forthcoming in Black Warrior Review and poems in Octopus, Milk, Can We Have Our Ball Back?, Three Candles, and Tarpaulin Sky.

Adam Clay was nominated for Poets Under 30 by the storySouth editors.

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.