Literary Yard

Search for meaning

‘Staying indoors’ and other poems by Adam Lee

By: Adam Lee

Staying indoors

How are we meant to
escape from thought
when all the activated portals
have shrunk and closed
up like the ragged heads
of flowers in a summer drought?

We are like that wandering ghost
who struggles to re-enter
the locked, richly furnished
mansion rooms
of his previous host.
Who sheds void tears
then disappears,
leaving an icy gust
of bitterness

Because life has
contracted, its littleness
reminding us of the
time before we were here;
when we were
suspended, powerless
in a vast, dense darkness.

But at least
in those days
we were barrelling towards
a fiery point of light,

a terminal
which turned out to be the
entrance point for the soul;
now we seem always
to be approaching the event
horizon of some black hole,

still endlessly remote
but terrible, filling all
the sky.


Did you know

Every decision you make is a rejection of a world.
When you take one way,
amazed by your hostility
the bulb of a universe
flickers on to make
each outcome flare. So why is it, then, that against

the backdrop of this great wash
of possibility we appear to have
been abandoned on the shore;
wandering about aimlessly in the solar wind,
stumbling on the stones with nowhere to go;
unsure, ill at ease,
rattled by trivialities,
unable to effectively sift through
the sands of conflicting realities?


The magpie
After Mark Strand

The world contains too much,
and, no matter how long you
live, there is never enough time

Even the magpie, pecking at trash
in the suffusive but disastrous light
of the early morning sun,
in a vacant part of the city,
in the ninth month of the year,
in what is collectively
supposed to be
the twenty-first century;
even this image will dissolve.

You are walking in the city
in that same morning and
you watch, mourning, as
things keep dissolving. As
though all the world’s
waters were sweeping
in; in tides of acid.
And you stand there
and you can’t understand it;

why the inhabitants of this small world
take it so seriously. And you watch
as their anguish is hurled
from sixth floor windows.

“And they are all just images,”
you say, speaking to no one.
“The magpie pecking at trash,
the skyscrapers threatening to topple over,
shaking their impotent fists. The
outcasts thrust to the city limits.

The bricks, the mortar the tyres, the faucets:
the ambulance crews rushing to lost causes,
all are just images.”

And then, still standing there, you suddenly decide
that all you want or could ever need is someone
with beautiful hair
to turn to you in the onrushing darkness
and say “Yes, I agree too,
they are all just images,
nothing but images,”

but they never do.


The Furies

Will Winter never arrive? Or the mace of ice, swung from space or regions below, which only needs to land one effective blow? But Winter reminds me of the time I looked for you. When I looked into your eyes and was convinced that, even if the universe were infinite, it wouldn’t matter because there could never be any other version of this moment. No inversion where I could be presented with something more than your pity and fury. Your hair glistening and streaming outwards like a Maenad’s. But yes, pity and fury. Like an absent deity that returns, after aeons, to delete his own misshapen creation. Chastising himself; swearing as he strikes,
“I’ll never forgive myself for letting this go on for so long.”



The man who wanted to be a poet
went silent along the quay at night.

The world was calm and warm-
gave thanks. The igloo light
leaked from strategic lamps.

But the man was sad. Because a poet
would have been able to eat this image
and show it, transformed,
to a disbelieving world. But

all he had in his heart
was black, like soot.
He dangled a foot
over the water.

My hero
my dark angel
-my daughter-
where are you roaming?

He stood there for a long time,
watching the boat dwindle into nothing.
Before it was completely lost,
it seemed to linger in the bay,
taking the longest way
possible to round the cape
and so reach the secrecy of the open sea.

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