In Performance: The Soft Fires, Ghost, Wheel

God’s Son Lay Down

God’s son walked down the street, His son
walked down East Colfax Ave. on a Jan. morning,
1AM, in the snow, torn sneakers and an alto sax and nowhere
to rest his head, nowhere except
in the lap of an old junkie whore,
and God’s son lay down his dark head there,

Lay down his head on the altar of flesh
weary of preaching love,
offering his music of love.
But no one hears –
that we are all each other,
and all one, and each
of us is holy
and the earth is holy,
this old battered boot-worn holy earth.

But no one hears and so God’s son
lay down his head again to die
and be reborn with the new day, reborn to preach
his only commandment,

To love that old bum, that old drunk vet,
that old woman smelling of vomit
and despair who once was
someone’s daughter,
and someone’s daughter on the street now –
15 years old and run-away, pregnant punching bag
with needle nightmares,

His son lay down his head because no one
wanted to hear about love, only
about vengeance and sin,

And God’s son lay down his weary head
with it’s undying burden of sorrow,
which is no more or less than joy offered
and not taken, lay down
his weary head in a back alley in the snow
in the lap of an old whore
and blew softly, softly
to his Father, the prayer
of his music.

Michael Adams copyright © 2011


After the Ashes

She stirs with some internal drama so real now that will be lost
to her and the world when she awakens, and the hollow
between ribcage and pelvis rises and falls in a long
sigh, carrying my hand like a piece of driftwood riding
a long sweep of wave. This is the bed that has cradled us through countless

Dream-laden nights, with the wind carrying
our names in the leaves of the late summer trees,
year after year, wind which is the spirit we draw into ourselves
and expel from ourselves every moment of our lives.
There is the way she removes her top, standing
at the foot of the bed, crossing
her hands in front at the waist, the length
of her slim torso revealed as she lifts her arms
over her head, opening them to the wide night.

There have been other rooms in other houses
across the breadth of America, other voices carried
with the wind — the distant whistle
of a train along the winding Susquehanna, soft fluttering of diesel
exhaust from the big rigs outside a December motel window
in Blackwell, OK, song of coyotes along the shelterbelt
of a desert stream, so brave against the boundless night,
a tent and sleeping upon the good earth with the wind coming hard
from a high mountain glacier. Campfire beneath white granite
and stars, and after, the ashes. These rooms, these voices, this earth

Go with us in the long story of our lives,
along with the sounds of love, the wordless
speech of tongues groping beyond themselves in the furnace
of another’s mouth, a gentle October rain, all carried
headlong by the wind that has no fixed name or home
of its own, except the earth entire, home.
And the names of those who draw breath no more, whose names
are long forgotten and spoken no more, all borne endless on the wind.

Michael Adams copyright © 2011



I ski now, untracked,
into the falling snow
that falls into the trough
of hard snow left
by yesterdays’ travelers,
so that the going,
through the snow-bowed
pines, is easy yet new,
my skis buried, only
the tips, pushing
tiny bow waves, visible
and making the smallest
of sounds, a faint
hissing in the full silence
of the forest.

My breathing, the fixed
flowing rhythm of arms and legs,
the still woods –

The world with all
of its burdens falls away.
I think of my 57 years,
the mountains I have climbed,
nights under the wheeling stars.
All of the women I have loved
and the one I love now
with all the fullness of my years.

And I think, too, of companions gone –
men and women – carried out
of my life by death or the strong
currents of life,

And the falling untracked snow
and what lies at the heart of it all.

Michael Adams copyright © 2008


What We Ate

I’ll tell you what we ate that winter.
It was cold on that mountain.
And my God, the snow!
Started late, just
before Christmas, but didn’t quit
until two weeks after Groundhog’s Day.

Duane shot the sow a week before Thanksgiving
with a .22 in the middle of her forehead.

We hoisted her on the engine hoist,
slit her open from throat to groin.
The entrails steamed
in the hard air.

The dogs went crazy, of course,
when Kate threw them
the guts and she had
to knock Big Red Dog
near senseless
with a cast-iron skillet
to keep him from killing Bull Lee.

We used long knives like razors and were covered
to our elbows in blood and fat.
Moon Woman scraped the hide clean
and salted it for tanning.

Big pots of boiling water,
slow fire in the smokehouse.
Big Red Dog, back
on his feet, fighting,
with Bull Lee over the head.

All winter —
bacon and chops
loins and roasts
potatoes and turnips.
Spinach drizzled in pork fat.
We ate like kings. We cut and split 10 cords
of firewood – oak, maple, black locust. Everything
came from that mountain.

It was beautiful up there,
I wouldn’t have traded it
for anything in the world,
but that soil never
gave up anything
without a fight.

That night, Moon Woman in the sauna, her breasts
long and thin, nipples big, almost black.
Her snatch, dark,
beaded with sweat.

Outside, hot from the sauna,
she pushed me down
into the straw,
said – I’m hungry –
as she rode me.

What we’d done that day –
I’d never done anything like it.
I was in love with all of it.

The stars spread their arms
over us. Pale Moon Woman
moaning, steam rising from her knobbed back
like mist from a forest after rain.

The molten core of us exploding,
life and death, shape-shifting, one
into the other and the other
again. No man no woman
one being, the warm animal of ourselves
so greedy, so hungry to take it all in,
give it all away.

Moon Woman, her long hair gleaming starlight,
sways over as we ride, cradled
upon the star-domed earth.

Michael Adams copyright © 2010