Blue Screen of Death

Adam Clay

Today I wonder who
moved the high steeples
of my childhood, knowing

there's a twist at the end
of the answer because the urge
to dig deeper is coded somewhere

cold within the folds of my
past lives. What other animal
would teach a computer

to be a Buddhist, to design itself
right out of existence with this much
hubris? The sea somewhere

feels gnarled but not here,
not now. Enlightenment might
be the only gift we could

ever give. In our effort the bricks
were set so carefully, we can't see
the source or shape of the light.

Of course there's a candle
that doesn't burn out, but no one
knows how to light it.

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Adam Clay is the author of three collections of poems: Stranger, A Hotel Lobby at the Edge of the World, and The Wash. He is editor of Mississippi Review, a coeditor of Typo Magazine, and a book review editor for Kenyon Review. He teaches in the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

“With its soaring phrasings, its exquisite collage of major and minor, and its potent imagery of the painter and the painted, Adam Clay's To Make Room For the Sea recalls Joni Mitchell at her most enduring. Time and chance reorganize our lives and selves; Clay's new collection responds with shock and smarts and tenderness and a continuous commitment to dwelling in the space of unknowing. From the hushed and simmering to the nearly operatic, these poems burn bright as the cardinal that 'looked / nuclear at a distance.' They refuse to turn away from the totalizing responsibility we have toward one another: how it undoes us, how it saves us, how it goes on.”
—Natalie Shapero

“In Adam Clay’s achingly beautiful new collection, To Make Room for the Sea, love is also and always a story that changes as inevitably as seasons. Within these meditative lyrics, silence never searches for an answer but a mind does, and each poem feels like ‘a prayer for the oldest worlds within us.’ Stretched between grief and praise, Clay studies trees, parenthood, the sky, the moments that make loneliness new. These poems remind me that no matter the losses we face, we hold on because, like blossoms, our survival depends on it.”
—Traci Brimhall

“In a time of uncertainty and upheaval, both personal and collective, ‘Life mostly feels like walking the line / between an elegy and an ode’―and the poems in To Make Room for the Sea walk that line, too, between searching and wise, melancholy and hopeful. Perhaps the most seductive part of the book is the questions the poems ask: ‘What replaces the irreplaceable?’ ‘What can be taken back?’ ‘How willful must one / be to stop the body from enacting / the mind?’ And that’s the magic of this book―the way Adam Clay, line after line, enacts the mind on the page.”
—Maggie Smith

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