114.1: Adam Clay:: For My Country, Lost & Mighty Suggestion & On the Radio & Only a Phase 114

The other day a lover left me. The relationship was stalling out and I can’t say that I didn’t see it coming. But I wanted to pull the trigger and do the leaving. Que sera, I guess. Why do I bring this up? Well, I’m mopey and a bit hungover and have no one to talk to and am now sitting in a coffee shop with all these bright-eyed Teach For America kids chattering around me while I read and reread Adam Clay’s poems for this week. It is impossible to read the lines—for instance the first line of the first poem: “I didn’t want to own, claim, or defend you”—and not think of my former lover, maybe all of our lovers. In these poems lies an absence and a filling: something has been here, taken this shape, and now left. With this selection, we are left with an odd sense of viewing a disaster site—surveying the destruction and performing our reckoning—while knowing another storm is on its way. The word I keep returning to is threat. These poems are threatening. My lover knew I was leaving and I knew my lover was leaving. We watched each other steely-eyed waiting for the break, storms looming. We were cornered. Like the speaker here, we were also numb and irresponsible: “Here is a couplet of forgiveness / I was asked to pass along.” Threatening and threatened and washing our hands of it. We were at least more threatening than the young teacher next to me in the “Virginia Is for Lovers” shirt. No, teach, Adam Clay is for lovers. Nik De Dominic

For My Country, Lost

I didn’t want to own, claim, or defend you,
but you gave me no choice.

Considering my ownership of you fills my mind
like past aggression and a storm winnowing.

That is to say: with nothing.

I’d be lying if I said these thoughts haven’t been on my mind for the past few days.

A nickel in a goldfish pond.
A quarter tossed into a rain gutter for a better day.

I am not referring to shadows.

To illustrate how quickly and swiftly you move,
tomorrow we intend to replace your currency with insects.

I used others up in your light, taking most moments closer to darkness.

Mighty Suggestion

What might we be
or what we are

doesn’t solidly

suggest much, though that highway ridge
must be new enough for one to not imagine

it there. Your sense

of this nation (this nature)
is a sure one, surviving on the brain matter

of those that established this line

and that line here. A feather

must mean a bird has been here,
but what about your suitcase

and its belongings all bundled
up within themselves and itself?

You chipped a plate
to see what feelings might follow.

On the Radio

Nothing, thankfully. Earlier
the United Nations building

disappeared inside a television
you left on all night, but it didn’t
make the news.

Then what did? you

might have asked if you were awake
long enough for a breathy sentence
or a silent walk around the block.

Here is a couplet of forgiveness
I was asked to pass along.

Here is a place where there are no trains
dissecting its streets. You don’t want
to stay here? There are too many worlds

at our disposal. We glimmer
because we’re filled with so much luck.

Only a Phase

It wasn’t apparent that the margin of our own destruction could be right here
along the avenues of this poorly-painted town. Someone left a toaster
in the street, as if matters need be complicated any more. I’m eager
to one day think of acting as translating bad advice and information

into something we can all stomach or at least assume is necessary though
I doubt any tree in the world deserves the fate of its own figure. At any rate,
the city workers continue to cut them back, one by one,
with such a preciseness it seems they’ve chosen the wrong line of work.

Most things seem so sudden that we become dull to their impact. A procession
of children on a field trip all hold onto a rope so as to not fall off into the trench
where the lane of a road used to be. What if there’s no final meaning to any
of this measuring or subtracting? Surely something we’ve built up over the years

will turn out to be true if examined closely enough. From the sky we all move towards
somewhere with such force that we look less like ants and more like lions let out of the zoo.