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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

Like animals moving daily
through the same open field,
it should be easier to distinguish
light from dark, fabrications

from memory, rain on a sliver
of grass from dew appearing
overnight. In these moments
of desperation, a sentence

serves as a halo, the moon

poem

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

poem
Twenty-three percent when placed under
intense pressure did in fact kick
the door in. Soldiers creep on the other side
of the turn. Every little thing
is destined for ease. Music, be still.
Keep the mannequin secrets
to yourself. Remember a ladder
can take you both up and down.
The weather grows less stable
than