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About this poet

Adam Clay is the author of Stranger (Milkweed Editions, 2016), A Hotel Lobby at the Edge of the World (Milkweed Editions, 2012), and The Wash (Parlor Press, 2006). He is the editor in chief of Mississippi Review, coeditor of Typo Magazine, and a book review editor for Kenyon Review. He teaches creative writing and literature at the University of Southern Mississippi.

A Joke About How Old We've Become

I take a break from one thought or another
to pay a credit card bill,
to take the dog out, to water the two

plants in the hanging basket
because Kim asked me to,
but why not instead take a walk

through the early August morning
before the heat wave hits
while the body still stretches itself out?

The music goes from minor to major
when you flip the album, but sometimes
the minor starts over before you

cross the room (it’s a big room)
and sometimes it’s best to just listen,
it’s best to not fill any space with words

but the stars and the stripes catch
the eye more so than the white
blank space like a life to be filled up with

something bigger than itself. My dad
last night on the phone telling me the tests
came back positive but not to worry (but how

not to worry?), his almost three decades
ahead of me and what is a year
really when they pile up, time to dust

the furniture again, to check
on the sink that’s draining slow,
clean it out, start the day with a list

of what a day should even mean
or be, not minding how fast the hours go by
until I will mind, which by then it will

be too late, though I do not mean
my life means anything in the scheme
of stepping back we all do, chipping

at some unmovable block of rock
as if time won’t eventually
undo even its looming shape too.

Copyright © 2018 Adam Clay. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Summer 2018.

Copyright © 2018 Adam Clay. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Summer 2018.

Adam Clay

Adam Clay

Adam Clay is the author of Stranger (Milkweed Editions, 2016), A Hotel Lobby at the Edge of the World (Milkweed Editions, 2012), and The Wash (Parlor Press, 2006).

by this poet

poem

Because today we did not leave this world,
We now embody a prominence within it,
Even amidst its indifference to our actions,
Whether they be noiseless or not.
After all, nonsense is its own type of silence,
Lasting as long as the snow on your
Tongue. You wonder why each evening

2
poem

I wake myself imagining the shape
of the day and where I will find

myself within it. Language is not often
in that shape,

but sentences survive somehow
through the islands of dark matter,

the negative space often more important
than the positive.

Imagine finding you look

2
poem

In the painting
of a painting,
there’s little
to be said
of sadness,
as if opening up
within itself
is a way of
misremembering
personal history.
I remember
the museum
where the painting
was shown,
its walls so full
their colors
were