Adam Clay

Even if our minds do trick us, even if we act as shadows
on a wall
blindly unaware of the sun setting behind us,

the earth cannot pause without us. The earth could not be anything
without the sum of its parts

we tell ourselves. Like asking what God wants, like asking what
any of us wants. As if desire is all it takes to make any of us a god

that some insect somewhere might
bow down to. The trees all have two names that split this town-
 all towns-

dissecting a story into a beginning and an end.
Yes, that perfectly.

Overhead, a single bird flaps its wings.

Overhead, a thousand birds flap their wings-
And the moment of hesitation, of action, of disaster comes and then goes
and the question mark at the end of the tunnel is in reality a single rock,

a rock that exists despite the world’s intentions, despite the direction
in which the world leans.

Grief and Its Source

A classical sky made from glass and a view from above the earth,
   refracted back, a view of an explosion pipelined back at itself,

   back at the dull moon
   still visible along the arc of noon-time.

Do I think the well has gone dry,
   the bucket to be bottomless, the well’s bottom rising up and up
with the clouds in the sky slowly filling with briny rain,
meant to poison the well?

   And then the spinning world ceases to-
And the memory of a lake looms larger than the lake itself.


Psalm for the Silence in the Air Before the Newspaper Hits the Ground

Where was it that I found myself face near the sand
looking for a grain of sand
among a million others? And did

I dare to remove a puzzle piece
from the yard so carefully pruned,
the yard that would have seemed
savage a year ago to any passerby but myself?

Bereft of perception, what is the sun?

What is the ideal curtain-call
of diesel fumes and worn-out railroad ties

spoken in the hinge of darkness
outside every door? At what point

do we pause to worship
the ringing phone no one else can hear?

Adam Clay lives in Michigan and is the author of The Wash (Parlor Press, 2006). His second book, A Hotel Lobby at the Edge of the World, is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions.