Literary Yard

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‘Seeing her, or his, body’ and other poems

By: Carolyn Adams

Seeing her, or his, body

always startles.
The contours are generally
the same, with a few
unique differences.

Faces, with their
complex expressions,
hide what won’t
be given

But that landscape
of the frame,
warm, soft,
inviting and blameless planes,
can’t keep
deep secrets.

Vulnerabilities are exposed.

The pulse,
just under the skin,
beats on in
Cells rearrange
laying scars
like a roadmap.
Heat is given
and rescinded,
felt and

The body’s story
writes itself
with light.


Night Work

Carry me off to bed,
lay me down gently.
I’ll drift in soft cotton
on a warm night sea
until I slam the bulkhead.

I’ll find myself
in the abandoned house,
the empty store,
the wretched schoolyard.
There’ll be a predator
with a dagger smile,
its breath hot on my throat.
It will turn and fix its eyes
on me. And I’ll run.

Or there’ll be a man I can’t
get rid of. He’ll ford the
windowsill, wade through
the front door.
He’ll demand my bed,
sex, a place at the table.
I’ll know his name.
I’ll half-recognize him.

There’ll be more
I won’t understand.

It will take all night, but
I’ll do the work.
The work that gets
me out of here.


The Dream About Gary’s Car

It’s a Buick
painted like a pea fowl.
Not the showy male,
but the female of the species.
Pale iridescent blue succumbing
to a subtle gradient
of brown to buff.
In the streetlight beam,
it’s alive.

I can’t take my eyes
off it.

It’s a beautiful car,
but Gary won’t
let me drive it.

I know
it needs me
at the wheel.
It sits at the curb,
cauled, waiting.


Tide Pools

Life swims in basins on the beach,
concavities of old lava left
from the earth’s last burning.

When the ocean retreats,
purple urchins, green anemones,
fill the suddenly sunny shallows.
Kelp rubbery
as an elephant’s ear flutters
in currents that slip between
pocked stones.

A stranded crab
skitters, finds shelter.
Gulls cruise the exposed shore.
Some small lives will persist
to the next tide, some won’t.

The sea hasn’t forgotten
these orphan pools.
Foamy arms feel
her way back.

Soon, the moon will bring
the deep water in.


What Spring Also Brings

They’re in a great hurry
in the narrow breeding season.
They don’t stop
or pull up short,
don’t correct their

The goldfinch against the porch window.
The siskin, the woodpecker at the kitchen glass.
The swift in the flue, on the hearth.

Something clamors
for these deaths.
My house hungers for them.

Their tiny corpse bones haunt.
The silent slender purses of their hearts
close and stop.

Their small soft bodies still.
And still warm.


Carolyn Adams’ poetry and art have appeared in Steam Ticket, Cimarron Review, Subjectiv, Dissident Voice, and Blueline Magazine, among others. She is the author of four chapbooks, and has been nominated for a Pushcart prize, as well as for Best of the Net. 

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