I live in your umbrella
standing on a sea of dirt.
The white light of noon
blasting like a bullhorn.
I’ve done so much without you
I want to share.
If we had visitors from the future
come to hear what we had to say
I’m assuming the last thing I said
would be the first thing they heard
the first sound to enter
into their soft bodies of glass
and if they kept burrowing
that they would hear my first word last
as I squeeze myself into a ball
and give birth to my mother
Moonlight in the Dark and Roving Troughs
Maybe you didn’t know your mother.
Maybe she is still alive.
Maybe we don’t know anyone.
I find that undeniable
and my mother is what we have come
to define as dead.
She remains in that noun
like the moon remains itself.
Feelings move through,
leave us, return, leave us
and then, again, we are waylaid
by their impossibility,
in the mercy
of the dark and roving troughs.
I didn’t say enough about the chair.
I hated that chair.
It was my mother’s university.
She sat there ten hours a day
for ten years,
all the chicken and hamburger
and sugar she devoured
while her dog ruined
the white leather,
all the shows and commercials,
all the prescription drugs
making the chair a spacecraft
through the rock of Saturn’s ring.
Maybe when you are close
you can’t love everything.
Maybe family is a tourniquet
and compassion only arrives
like a friend knocking
in the small hours.
If I could—if there was—
if my mother—if the tree
there are no ifs.
Born in Toledo, Ohio, in 1969 Carl Adamshick grew up primarily in Harvard, Illinois.
Adamshick’s debut collection, Curses and Wishes (Louisiana State University Press, 2011), was selected by Marvin Bell for the 2010 Walt Whitman Award. In 2012, the collection won the Stafford/Hall Award for Poetry from Literary Arts.About his work, Bell writes:
Reading these poems is like breathing fresh air. Carl Adamshick’s voice is instantly engaging. A sophisticated ear. A continuous feeling for measure. A clarity of complex feelings. The tactile and the mysterious. Emotion embedded rather than proclaimed. A subtle artistry. It is refreshing to read a poet who feels and thinks from inside sound and sense.
Adamshick is also the recipient of an Oregon Literary Fellowship from Literary Arts and has been featured in Poetry in Motion. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, including the American Poetry Review, theHarvard Review, and American Poet.
Carl Adamshick: Awards Ceremony Reading
The poet Dorianne Laux describes Adamshick as someone who “has not joined the ranks of the MFA/PhD’s and has never attended a writer’s conference or residency.”