Adam Clay

In Advance of April’s Full Moon



The universe is expansive, infantile,

and unforgiving in its disregard

for human desire,

but not in its need to be looked

after or cared for.


Leaves from last fall persist through the rain—

a cloud arrives

under the cover of other clouds.


Inscribing memories into the book

of your mind does not mean

they will develop slowly through dark

before being brought up to the light.


It’s time to take solace

in the temporality of the body—

the lament pales alongside the ode

or the ode alongside the lament pales

with time.


If I repeat a statement endlessly,

it will become more buoyant.

If you manage to get expelled from the next life

without me, then wait

for me in the new world—trust I’m

looking for a way,

imagining what could have dawned above the sun

before the sun was all I knew.

11 Remixes of a Summer Day





A patch of leaves furrows

the treetop


from ethereal to solid

while its base hollows in the sun.





What alphabet

these grounded twigs


will arrive at


depends on the wind

and what its billowing


urges to be said.


Say patient for impatiens,

say willow for oak,


say observation

is the kindest of all actions.





I don’t know which air feels more buoyant,

that which gathers along the crest of the hill


or the air finding its way through

the beak of the Blue-winged Warbler.





On first thought the inside of the trees

seem like understories to their leaves.


Dependence frames most equations.


No need for the honesty of the ax

to know what you already should say.





A branch does not require Herculean greatness,

but the tree does it anyway.


Somewhere ants parachute, aloft

with their own weightlessness. Where they land,

the narrative need not notice.





The crow mocks the ant’s short life from afar.


Its brief movement creates a demented Z,

suggesting a purposed indifference.


Meanwhile the river meanders downhill

to a creek and a river again.


Its movement moves away from metaphor.





From one side the tree-seed shell mirrors a split cranium.

From the other, a hedgehog crouching roadside ready.





In formation, the birds walk in circles that make only sense to them,

their wings tucked like a knuckle hinge.





Beyond the point of human reflection,

the mind turns to creosote before it turns to fragments.





The arborist has submitted her

official resignation


to the gods of air and weightlessness.


They open another bottle of wine, drop

the cork into the darkest part of the sea.





Say anything is rife with gravity—

the planet skitters over its own cracked beauty.


ADAM CLAY’s most recent book is Stranger (Milkweed Editions, 2016). He edits Mississippi Review and teaches at the University of Southern Mississippi.