Three Poems
by Adam Clay

From the third print edition of Poet’s Country, Winter 2018.

Adam Clay’s most recent book is
Stranger (Milkweed Editions, 2016). He teaches creative writing and literature at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he also edits Mississippi Review.

Eventually / One Point Where We Arrive

Enough has been written about birds,
about the loons somewhere on the lake,
drifting out of the eye’s grasp
so far from their calls that they shift
into two different birds: the actual form
and shape of a bird while in another
they become the ideal version of what
we think a bird should be. Enough
has been written about the curiosity
of a child who asks why the birds landing
in the backyard skitter away
when we come near, the question a difficult
one beneath its asking yet simple as glass
on glass on its surface. Enough, too,
have the poets written about age, about
the mirror and its obsession with shortcomings.
Enough has been said about the inevitability
of closure in all things: endings sometimes
too much to imagine, while for others birth
may take years, those affected by concentric circles
long since gone beyond the space they once
inhabited (one hopes) into a different mirror,
though they are all the same reflections,
carrying the glare of the eyes that have come before
them with such ease, with a chisel for a stone
the size of what’s been written about enough,
a promise hidden deep within its geologic folds.

My Thought is Only a Mirror for Yours

                                aft. N.S.

Dry mud south from my words & a thought cast: did I
bury my body? My off/on switch missing, no way to drop
skin in this post-world as if in a bold mouth

a word for that word might

find for its synonym: cosmos. Gossip of sick
royalty at risk, what option but to ask for turnaround,
not for royalty only, but for humans

who would find mounds of dirt thrown on skin

with his royal blood. A man in my past coos still
of what’s crumbling, did, & a laugh
for him. What twists to crumbs will vanish

in a vacuum & quickly

for it only. Land for our living, loving
& untrusting clan, what was around:
goldmarks only upon dying, but not its bonds of dirt— 

Heaven Within the Mind

I am the great whatever, shaken out
of my skin at times into a forced
meditation, the mind
saying take a moment, take a moment
or two.
Each day is a kind of escape,
I’d like to say to the man a seat over,
his hat says he is Rapture Ready
right now and yesterday and tomorrow,
even though the point
of forgiveness is the farthest point
we can be from our bodies. In whatever
stillness I can find, the lyric strains
the mind to the distraction of forgetting,
the immediate sliver of recollected joy gone
the next time I reflect in the jurisdiction
of the day. Why must the lyric hover
so deftly in the night? Above some city
the streetlights flicker off while I wait
for the bayonet of pressure to find its way
into my mind as we descend through
the clouds of heaven in an hour or two.