Adam Day is the author of Model of City in Civil War, and Badger, Apocrypha. His work has appeared in Cordite, American Poetry Review, Poetry London, Sweet Mammalian, Iowa Review, Poetry Ireland, and elsewhere. He coordinates The Baltic Writing Residency.
These poems wrestle with contemporary culture by addressing both the commonality and complexity of people and experience. They are influenced by classical Japanese and Chinese (Buddhist) verse, but also by the bawdy, impertinent, visceral aspects of Samuel Beckett’s work.
It’s not personal; no someone here. Thumb
and index-finger touch; palm’s center
hollows out like the roof of the mouth. This
sadness is a position in time. Hit a fallow
deer – hoof-skids slantwise across
river road, slicker than goose shit.
Curious about the pain. It isn’t mine;
existing keeps happening. Below
tree canopy, the headlight’s frame cracks
under my feet. Where have I been?
Town sits like a sleeping animal
on top of a hill, drenched in mist
and drizzle. Along the road, a jeep
with a silver birch growing
where engine was. Snow
in the swale. ‘And what is death,’ Neighbor
asks, ‘Some mother’s or my own?’
They pop off all day at the clinic,
cut into bits in the dissecting room.
Woodshadows float silently
through morning motes,
seaward. Inshore and farther out
the mirror of water whitens, spurned
by lightshod hurrying feet. Cloud
begins to cover slowly the sun, shadow
the bay in deeper green, bowl
of bitter waters. Nickel shaving dish
in his hands, feeling coolness, smelling
the clammy slaver of the lather
where the brush is stuck. Nothing
here quite the same.
Broke the surface of shock water
with a black-ash loon, blood-eyed
bastard. Thought loon. And it
disappeared below. Peeling
birches lean over ferns,
the lake mirror. Sky, stay
whole. Fog-rain feels good. Why
am I always running away?
Hard the black bear
has to work to speak,
accosting the boulder
for its lack
of ambition, its absence
of anger, its need for touch.