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.

More by Adam Clay

Scientific Method

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 us. This line here is where
the season starts. Spring seems
fluorescently golden. Too much
milk in the fridge. When left alone
long enough, the prisoners
began to interrogate themselves.

Our Daily Becoming

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
hidden so the stars eclipse
our daily becoming. You think
it should be easier to define

one’s path, but with the clouds
gathering around our feet,
there’s no sense in retracing
where we’ve been or where

your tired body will carry you.
Eventually the birds become
confused and inevitable. Even our
infinite knowledge of the forecast

might make us more vulnerable
than we would be in drawn-out
ignorance. To the sun
all weeds eventually rise up.

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.

Related Poems

Touching the Floor

I touch my palms to the floor
and granite rhinos surge up my arms
and lock in my shoulders.
Water flecks on my back
and my head is shaved
by bladed cream.

But then my time in my body is up
and it’s time for my mind:
It seeks wisdom
and the rhinos fall into a well,
their faces falling apart—

I want to know what their last words are
but their lips are fading into the purple.

I put my hands into the ground again
but rhinos come only for the body
and never for the mind.

I used to want infinite time with my thoughts.
Now I’d prefer to give all my time
to a body that’s dying
from cancer.