Carl Adamshick


Carl Adamshick








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

through time


that they would hear my first word last

then watch


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’m alive.

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

again empty

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

she negotiated

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

after everything

like a friend knocking

in the small hours.


If I could—if there was—

if my mother—if the tree

or night—but

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.”


Carl Adamshick is the co-founder of Tavern Books.

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