poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, October 28, 2016.
About this Poem 

“I wrote this poem thinking about the recent death of a young poet and how loss can mean both the absence of a person but also the absence of the work that could have been created, had the poet’s life not been cut so short. This idea of creation, of course, extends beyond art and into other facets of life—the line our lives will follow isn’t always straight or straightforward. Within the reality of living another day lives the possibility of creation, despite the sense of loss we might feel right beneath the surface.”
—Adam Clay

What Shines Does Not Always Need To

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
Must be filled with a turning away, eyes to the lines
Of the hardwood floor as if to regret the lack
Of movement in a single day, our callous hope
For another wish put to bed with the others in a slow
Single-file line. I used to be amazed at the weight
An ant could carry. I used to be surprised by
Survival. But now I know the mind can carry
Itself to the infinite power. Like the way snow
Covers trauma to the land below it, we only
Believe the narrative of what the eye can see.

Copyright © 2016 by Adam Clay. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 28, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Adam Clay. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 28, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

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

Good morning mess of stars
just out of sight

and other things we choose
to make invisible with
the promise of their own design.

Reflections may chisel its strange song,

but think of skin
worn down under

the mass of
its panic (or purpose)

but not the trajectory

poem

Let the words we frame and chisel contain
the same language of those before and those
to come. If this moment is a place, let rain drift
to an elsewhere. Let our arrivals rise up
like the Estivant Pines. Let atoms
be atoms. Let song be song. If a moment
gone-by does not return, let the

poem

The years of the locust tree
Split open with ease,
But I had no ax—
It was lost to the snow.
Let’s make up a story
Of how we arrived here.
Because of its ability to create,
The mind must do the opposite.
I always liked missing you,
Stirring the coals with only
The