Adam Clay

Four Poems


Do what you will with the dirty pictures of your first lover:
The wind can still bang a screen door off its hinges
And simple myths, like mirrors, will continue to bootlick
In the back of your mind. It seems natural to fall in love
At a funeral, the way a body shivers under weight,
The way those drinks stain the collars of your shirts.
You can look all you want, you can piss into the face of oblivion,
You can turn it on, turn it off again. Staring at the sun
May take your vision, but the light will be infinite
And repeating. When it seems to go, stare hard at nothing,
Think of the dirt in your body, and it will be light again.




Born into a beehive of clarity, bedtime and endtime
Are like the laugh inside a shotgun barrel,
The space of air between undoing the holy and tucking desire
Into itself until it is not so.

                                          But it was. And what once was
Is. Some still look to the sky for the next curse—
Not that it matters what or how or when, but this act
Covers up the curse of watching for what will never fall.
A heron appears to fall.

          Slight rip of light, the valley where salt water pools,
The bird in the grass, wings stretched, tiny eclipse
Of feathers and bones. Perhaps the curse has taken
On a bird-like form. Grubs dance in the dirt. An empty
Birdbath waits in the twig-colored night.




The bark men have all gone home. Pails of milk
Wait along the doors to cool in the night,
A reflection of ghost looking up from each one.
Covering cherubim of clouds above,

The boy on the brig has come to the Fens
To find his sister who, he’s been told,
Is buried at the feet of a stranger. His mother says
The same words spoken for the named

Were spoken above his twin. He kneels and draws
An O on each grave as if to reach through the dirt
And bring her tiny bones up to hold to the light,
But the boy blinks and seems to know

A prophet is nothing in his own country
So he walks down to Whittlesea Mere
And stares into the heavens with only a stone
In his pocket and the mirror of sky blind to itself.


Her cold tongue shriveled like a baby’s fist
When she slept. To be a cosmic murmur

After death, to be a banjo string in space,
She only spoke at the leering moon

When its fullness and form forced the night
To swagger as if made only of veins

And drunk on its own blood.
Like a tattoo of a fly on a girl’s wrist,

The tree lunges its branches
Through the slivered windshield of a truck

In a field of burnt cotton. At night,
She crawls down to the tree, bleeds into a jar,

And scourges the sky with her offering
For the fever that goads those to sing this song.

* * *

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.

Poetry copyright 2004 by Adam Clay.