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Adam cannot be adam.

namely because they are much more compatible than the idiom suggests, furthermore, in many languages, an orange is referred to as a "golden apple"

   I kept you both
   at the same time
   in order
   to tell the difference

   Adam the signified
   Adam the significant

   one of you was sleeping
   one of you walked
   into your sleep

   Adam the mechanic
   Adam the pallbearer

   I kept you both
   alive in order
   to write in order to

   fold a thing up to be another thing
   getting anything to be inside anything

   In this story I fall in love with both men named Adam.
   I am prone to sinus infections.
   Adam works in a tarp factory.
   The other Adam keeps a jar of ten-year-old water on his shelf.
   I mix antibiotics with whiskey and wear braids in my hair.
   The jar of water is a gift he tells me.
   Adam wants to have sex all the time.
   But Adam prefers to sleep.
   There is a cat and sometimes a dog.
   Adam's piano takes four hours to tune.
   The piano tuner's wife is a fortuneteller.
   Adam gives me paperback novels from thrift stores.
   We drink margaritas that smell like Lysol.
   I move into Adam's house after I stop having sex with Adam.
   The fortuneteller says he is a crab and he is a goat and I am a
   There is something growing in the jar.
   I have not spoken to Adam in over a year.
   Rams scare crabs but crabs scare easily.
   Adam prefers to work twenty-four hours a day.
   The cat brings fleas into my bed.
   I paint the fireplace white.
   The fortuneteller says goats and rams will fight like cats and
   That's what you can expect.
   Antibiotics and sleeping pills.
   I ask about the jar.
   What is living inside.
   Adam says it was a gift and Adam doesn't throw away gifts.
   The piano weighs a thousand pounds.
   Adam is not a replacement for Adam.
   Rams eat goats and goats eat crabs.
   There is no dignity in anonymity.
   What can you expect.
   In this story I cannot remember his faces.
   In this story all I see is the face.
   It is a gift.

   I had a life
   outside the garden
   I wrote on
   how many adams it takes
   to remember

   the hole in the donut
   the apple in the dumpling

   A bag is not exactly
   a face from memory.
   So I started
   with a bag.

   A face is memorable.
   As a bag is familiar but not
   as easily remembered as
   an apple core is
   not exactly similar to
   the peel of an orange.

   I started facing
   the second day.
   The second I started
   painting. I opened
   the bag. Peeled
   the orange. Next to
   two daffodils. A jar
   of water for daffodils.
   A bag for an apple
   core is nothing
   but a peeled surface.

   On the day I started
   the daffodils is
   the day I looked
   at the bag facing
   the daffodil and
   the daffodil
   facing the peel
   and so on the same
   day the daffodils
   face the apple and
   then the orange
   the next day.

   I started in exactly
   three or four days. Drawing.
   Five days. Surfacing
   a look. From looking.

   Now flies flying over.
   Flies surface
   over the opening.
   Open as a bag
   that is open. As a
   face opens. Exactly
   familiar with looking.

   It is exactly as I look
   that every face remembers
   starting with a bag.
   A surface. A grounding.

   I remember the fifth
   day coiled near
   the orange peel.
   Now an apple now
   is made bruised
   by remembering.
   Flies coming that come
   the sixth and seventh
   days. As they are.

   As everything starts
   to face me.

   On the last day
   as I start to stare
   I remember. An
   orange is not an apple
   exactly. Drawn
   from memory.

   A jar of water
   breeds ground.

   I knew in order
   to write
   to draw points
   in a system
   the love of naming
   must be lost
   on adam.

   The night we elect our president.
   I leave Adam's house in my pajamas.
   I drive to Adam's house.
   Adam is waiting for me in the kitchen.
   We kiss for the first time.
   (For a long time.)
   I say I just came from Adam's place.
   Adam says I taste like artificial grape jelly.
   I can't believe I am standing with Adam.
   (After such a long time.)
   We have just elected our new president.
   I tell Adam it is pomegranate lipstick.
   I am wearing the red fleece pajamas.
   (From so long ago.)
   Adam circles me.
   He tastes the same as Adam.
   The way a circle closes.
   He takes me to the bedroom.
   To forget about Adam.
   We talk about the president.
   Adam can't believe.
   I say we are finally going.
   Pomegranate is popular.
   Here in Adam's house.
   We are somebody.
   Adam takes off my pajamas.
   Believe it when.
   Adam isn't here watching.
   Color or taste.
   To hear his door shut.
   My pajamas in a circle.
   (What time is for.)
   I say Adam says.
   His hands apart.
   The artificial fragrance.
   Adam says it reminds me.
   (Each time the same.)
   The night I leave Adam.
   A part is all.

   as in holograms

   I cannot
   bisect him
   to discern
   a separateness

   image of the apple

   cut in half
   halved in

   fourths I ask
   how such portions
   remain graceful
   for example

   if I am with you
   contained in the blur

   bathed then
   and bathed again

   by light
   then all you
   have to do
   for the most part
   is refocus

   what we need
   we leave
   to holes
   left open

   in my story here is a
   in my story here
   is a wind chime
   here a thunderstorm
   firecracker airplane
   parking lot
   here a
   a hairdryer
   here is
   a highway windshield wiper water heater
   foghorn furnace
   in my
   fish tank
   is a
   vacuum cleaner
   grandfather clock
   here raindrops
   wine glasses

   a spaceship
   a heartbeat
   a drawbridge
   in a painting
   hear a ribcage between us
   to sleep on

   Adam does not move
   at speeds racing
   the rain in yesterday's cloud

   to demonstrate
   the shape of cold

   curtains funnel
   a cupola of sky

   imagine a garden
   so thirsty it begs

   to join atoms
   an orphan
   droplet becomes ten

   thousand over today's
   watered-down declaration

   Adam I loved you
   as a cloud
   enormously and all
   at once

   distilled to one
   storm that gathered
   to threaten

   in the parking lot
   her head
   beside a puddle
   of molasses too thick
   to be blood but
   does it not resemble does it
   repeat a likeness
   certainly worthy of his picture
   Adam the photographer

   abandon a garden
   and the house is much bigger

   her eyes
   a raincoat
   even though she stoops
   inside the shadow of
   his shadow
   lowering her head in
   the crawlspace
   surely mercy surely
   the uncanny
   is much closer now
   to camera
   sounds sssssshutters
   both familiar as
   this silhouette:
   repetition insistence repetition insistence
   in order to tell
   the difference:
   now I want you
   to be closer
   (or appear to)
   he focuses
   no you first I insist

   to do it moving out of the frame
   but you don't have to do all of it he reminds her after it is
   done after all:

   there is no such thing
   as repetition and really
   how can there be

   in this story
   adam collapses
   I fold
   a napkin around
   his name
   separate the kitchen
   from the living
   room with a curtain
   this way Adam cannot
   be adam and be
   a kingdom
   a trash bin
   a pinhole

   shutters shut and shutters and so shutters shut and
   shutters and so

   and so shutters and so
   as soon as she
   starts over
   from a photo
   of a water faucet
   she pictures
   how it falls inexorably
   their sleep machine
   set to waterfalls
   every night Adam
   she follows you

   dividing books into
   boxes looking to
   remember the room
   gets bigger
   don't you think

   it's all the same
   when a library stops
   here and begins
   again picturing water or
   the sound of it

   falling she thinks
   it is all
   the same


All italicized lines are from Gertrude Stein's poetry, essays, and lectures.

"I kept you both" and "I had a life" are altered fragments from a larger poem that originally appeared in The Offending Adam.

KELLI ANNE NOFTLE'S first collection of poetry, I Was There for Your Somniloquy, was selected by Rae Armantrout for the 2010 Omnidawn Poetry Prize. She lives in Los Angeles.
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Author:Noftle, Kelli Anne
Publication:New Orleans Review
Article Type:Poem
Date:Dec 1, 2013
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