Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Adam's Ribs by Terry Adams

Adam’s Ribs
Poems by Terry Adams
Off the Grid Press
P.O. Box 84
Weld, Maine 04285
ISBN: 978-0-9778429-2-6
Copyright © 2008 Terry Adams

At first take, I tried to shape a thought-link between the book title and the author’s name.
An assumption that “Adam’s Ribs” was a word-play alluding to the author himself,
(the author, of course named Terry Adams, with an “s”). Or that this collection poses
poetical claim to the fated “first man”, also known in the Kabala as the “Primal Man”.
The title poem could be read as an allegory for the poetic process where the actual ribs of Adam are ornaments of earthly understanding:

“The toil of all my days will live me again.” . . .
My children will crawl upon the earth
and nest on the earth; will increase themselves
out of their skins and give their old masks to the earth,”

Not a rejoicing in death, but a theme of returning and conclusion gives spine to Adams’ work.
“Adam’s Ribs” examines and exhumes the realm of mortality as it diffuses its chalky hand through the mundane-everyday.Terry Adams’ images are colorful, his subject matter is often risky,(the poem “Balls” for instance), and his style is anecdotal. The poems flux between short and long,the latter being at-odds with the current literary climate.

A high level of searching and reflection prods the speaker’s voice throughout.
A literal holding up of details, to both reveal and revel in.
The poem, “After the Laying-On of Hands” holds a sad tone. The act of laying-on-of-handsretains its metaphysical nature and purpose while at the same time, the poem takes on a Tibetan “Book of the Dead”- ish feel:

“He is an embryo feeling the vague drama
of his mother’s life though
a scrim of stretched flesh,
before the forces beyond itself deliver it out against any will.
I dream I would heal him by touching him,
because I contain an excess of the battles with many deaths.
I would rest my hand on his tumor,
make it glow hot and golden
in the shape of his diaphragm,
dissolve the cancer cells into
a little Eucharist of waste, an abortion
of the fore life, but he will not finish
as a living man.”

In “Forgiveness”, Adams arrives through a round-about way to acknowledging an undisclosed person who committed a crime that almost escaped going unnoticed. Or is the speaker forgiving himself forfinding what he found? The speaker finds a mother dog and six puppies all shot through the head in a clearing by the interstate,“skeletons lined up neatly / like bodybags in the news from a minor nation.”

The speaker announces, to either themself, the reader of the killer of the
dogs that this poem is a wish poem and that:

. . . “I wished for / the impossible. I wished
something other than insanity or cruelty
did the killing, and my wish
is a crime against understanding.”
Finally resolving:
“I can’t stop thinking
of all the possible excuses
for the killer, all the kinds os desperation
living out there with a gun
and no face.”

In the final poem, “I Want to See”, Adams wants to see every thought he ever thought
written down; a bold statement, a tough task and totally scarey for anyone to dare see.
He intends:
“I want worded the echoing caves where I first understood,
and each sensation of singular time expanded to a phrase.”

“The Dump” is a catalogue of the old remnants of life that get “plowed under”
for real in the dump after serving their purpose. The speaker “lofts” and throws these
“components of every whole / thing no longer a whole” while ruminating:
“The Apache have a word Alaya, that means
‘Changes while flying through air’.”

“Adam’s Ribs” brings an amalgam of worldly details to the surface and leaves them
unsheathed in celebration.

Mike Amado is a reviewer for the Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scense
and the author of "stunted Inner Child Shot the TV" ( Cervena Barva Press).

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Mike and Doug for this review (July 24th) of my new book. Your observations ring true with me. I want to comment here also that Tam & Bert - editors of Off The Grid Press - are wonderful to work with, and helped make the book what it is. i will use your review in further efforts to publicise the book.
    Thanks, Terry Adams