Barbara Adams

Letting Go
For Belle

On a day like today
when the sky is so high, so blue
there is no other color,
I could fall into it forever.

Yesterday was gray like the trooper’s hat
grazing the roof of the train car,
gray uniform tight as a cat’s,
the Hudson River a tidal blur

Gray as beautiful Belle’s hair,
pale as her eyes fading like foam
on ale, winter painting the trees
with whiteout.

I long to pluck the single white hair
on her upper lip—why do I care?
The lineaments of beauty time-creased
despite facelift and cosmetics.

On a day like today,
the air so pure it’s bare of breath
and human death
and there is no change of weather,

Only blueness
and the kite I fly, careless,
letting the string slip
through my speechless fingers.

October Fest

I am lying on this white cliff—
unchained Prometheus
above the educated town 500 feet down
where everyone knows

My only reason for being here—
the warm sun squatting in the blue,
a cooling jack-o-lantern.
Nothing between us but radiation.

Eyes closed, I soak up his flames
listening to shedding leaves—white birch, oak,
trembling aspen,
the cough of a fox—
Alien as a house fern
among pine cones.

a turkey vulture,
drawn by the odor
Of warm flesh,
Blackens the sun with six-foot wings.

Terrified, I open my eyes—

What puzzles me: his veering away,
not his coming
too soon.

Wild Life

The birds have flown,
the bed cold
clean underwear folded
for butts, socks rolled for feet.

The furnace clicks, obeying
a drop below 70,
the A.C. clicks, obeying
a rise above 70,
indoor season steady as a cave.

The highway teems with migrants—
In the empty daylight
wild turkeys gobble grubs and bugs
cackling crows rip shreds of suet
hanging from the apple tree
squirrels shake sunflower seeds
with practiced skill, gorging themselves.

A ten-point buck hit by a truck, falls,
bleeds to death—
His antlers salvaged for a coat rack.

The stone squirrel smirks,
plastic deer doesn’t feel the bullet.
Someone thinks they’re cute.

The migrants return from somewhere,
settling down for the night,
not going anywhere.

About the Author

Barbara Adams has published three books of poetry, Hapax Legomena and The Ordinary Living, and her 2014 book, Destinations. She has also published a book on an American poet, Laura Riding, The Enemy Self: Poetry & Criticism of Laura Riding. The Stone Man and the Poet, a memoir, was published in 2012.

She won the Robert Frost Foundation Award for Poetry (2007), and the 1999 Negative Capability Fiction Prize for a short story.

Her poems, stories and essays have been published in The Nation, Texas Review, Negative Capability, Confrontation, Chronogram, Dalhousie Review, Rockhurst Review, Riverwind, Modern Poetry Studies, Psychoanalytic Review, etc., and in anthologies by Hudson River poets, Riverine, WaterWrites, and A Slant of Light, and in an Irish-American anthology, The Next Parish Over.

She taught Modern American Literature at Pace University, NY, and retired as Professor Emerita in 2001.

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