Badger Running Off at the Mouth

There are no Siamese twins in this
Town, no albinos; only soccer

matches, bourbon, steaming horses
and the slick skirts of afterbirth hanging

from hind-ends. I don’t care how
depressed you are, I’m not coming

to your party. Champagne
and sodomy are overrated—in that

order. Smoking in the shower, with a bacon
sandwich and a boy named Daniel waiting

on the sink, on the other hand, are
supremely underrated. I admit,

I’m an unnecessarily handsome
knockabout, nightly drunk to no apparent

effect. But, it’s nice to be worried about.
It’s almost like being cared about.


Condensation Cube*

The best way to visit Kelvedon Hatch bomb shelter is in the new
Alfa-Romeo; with its four-wheel disc brakes,
luxurious interior and road-holding ability, it’s safe, fast and pleasant
to drive. Just follow the sign: “Secret

Nuclear Bunker”. Sixties-era mannequins in Burberry with moving legs
and breasts, loitering in corridors. A skinny husband
in the craw of a cold bed with a snore like a toothache. Tranquil tensions
escalated. With striptease the décor is always

more important than the person disrobing. Whatever chaos reigns above—fallow fields
of worn-out worms, the ponds cowering—
life underground is snappy, ordered, austere. A zone of leisure. How war can be
productive; constellating Nixon in the kitchen, celebrating appliances

and amenities. Baked beans, tomato juice, Nescafé, a rational level
of dread. Outside, night’s cold,
object’s cold; no different from a church. Condensation on Plexiglas. Descending
from a slope of debris, children swarm

the ruins. False-feathered cardinals for floral arrangements, pressed
& colored glassware, garden
tools. Typhoid from seashells cleaned improperly. How stupid and forgettable
adults are. To conceive of the world

as a target. Like a cantilevered goldfish. To vie for spots in the only shelter
in the neighborhood. Nowhere else
to go but another part of the airplane. To photograph ourselves as humans; to see
ourselves as bullets and bombs

see us. Children embroidered in a rug like musical instruments abandoned
in a field. Seeing all the different moments
the way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains; like soldiers looting a clock
factory. Participant-observers; innocent

nobodies. The incompleteness of the past; the ongoingness of history. Dogs eating grass
beneath the dripping trees; the smell
of a white dress rained on. It is a country which you can imagine, for it is
pretty like a picture, as it lies

there amidst its landscape, like an artisanal snow-globe, which it owns.

*After David Alworth’s “Bombsite Specificity”


Father Benides

Father Benides touched me in my special

place when I was eight. Then he put
his little man—like the neck of a goose

tethered to a telephone pole—to my forehead.
Families locked away in their houses—

drained swimming pools, deserted
runways, the flooded river. Everyone

is the way they are. I think
I laughed—as if I knew where I was

going, as if my shadow jogged on
before me. It’s not well to laugh

at another man’s misfortune. Father
Benides only smoothed my hair—I stared

at the chips in the ceiling. My conscience
is clear as regards having done

my duty. It’s his anger I envy most
today; his anger and his directness.


Adam Day was awarded the 2011 PEN Emerging Writers Award for Poetry.