You wade barefoot into the creek,
your dress damp to your knees
and you turn back to see
if I would follow you.

How do I tell you
about the ghosts I see
nipping at your toes,
minnows in the water,

about the little mouths of shadows
that sail lazy among the leaves
on the surface of the stream?

The sunlight filters down
to glisten on the eddies and on you
and you splash laughter dancing,

but how do I tell you
as sweet as wading in the river
of your happiness sounds,

I can join you with my body
but not with my soul.

I am shorebound today,
unbaptised and heavied,
there are rocks in my pockets
that your laughter cannot lighten,
I cannot go into the water with you

but please keep laughing,
and splash your joy upon my face,
pour cupfuls of it over my head,
you chase the ghosts with brightness
back into their shallows,
you make the shadows shut their mouths.

— Adam Kamerer


Behind The Scenes

Want to know the story behind this poem? Patrons who pledge $5/month or more get access to behind-the-scenes notes on my poems.

-- Adam Kamerer

Peacing the Dark

Come awake to sunshine,
stretch the sleep off,
step barefoot
into the kitchen garden.

Call hello good morning
to your bottomless black pit.

Laughing play fetch
with your many-toothed wolf.

Offer a fuzzy peach
full of sticky sweet juice
to your writhing shadow.

This bright pretty morning
stroll among blooms and
trill happy nonsense songs
to the great leviathan
submerged beneath your ribs.

Your unsettling never leaves you
but some days it sits light
upon your back.

-- Adam Kamerer


I had to teach myself
the shapes of strange floodgates:

the open door that leads
to pine trees and crows,
away from the sound of humans,
and back to the sound of squirrels.

The sizzle and crack
of skillet and fat,
the simple pleasure
of a egg being fried
and laid on toast.
A golden gush of yolk.

The hot flush and rush
of a shower head
pouring buckets onto
skin I haven’t wanted
to wash in days,
of sore gums shocked to mint.

These are floodgates
to trickle down the reservoirs
before the levees crack
and all the gallons and gallons
of me smash out and scour
everything I’ve built away.

-- Adam Kamerer

What Happens To Me When You Laugh

What happens to me when you laugh: my lips desire
your laughing lips; my hands desire your skin beneath them;
my mouth all of your playful mouth.

Your laughter unwinds the knots in my limbs,
it softens the hardness calcified on these poets’ bones,
your laughter shushes my nervous belly gnawing.

You laugh and all the worries of my world fall away.

-- Adam Kamerer

To Keep The Gloom At Bay

To keep the gloom at bay:
laugh every day.
Laugh a Herman Munster laugh.
Laugh a colorful painting laugh.
Laugh a marshmallow sugar laugh.

Laugh at your own jokes.
Laugh at mine.
Laugh until your ribs are so full and aching
there’s no room for the wolf under them.

This poem was originally published under the pen name Gabriel Gadfly.

-- Adam Kamerer

Beautiful Like…

Right there.
I want to remember this image
for the rest of my life.
I want to remember the shape of
your thighs clamped tight around mine,
the shine of your tangled hair,
the sheen of the impassioned sweat
on your slender, outstretched arms,
and the gleam of the blade
on that really big knife you’re holding.

Just stop,
because I’ve got to tell you something:
you’re beautiful.
And I don’t mean run-of-the-mill
girl-next-door kind of beautiful
You are stunningly, terrifyingly,
shock-and-awe beautiful.
You are beautiful like
bullet tracers over Fallujah are beautiful,
beautiful like the thousand shapes and colors
swimming in your vision
after a too-soon flashbang
in a Baghdad bakery are beautiful.
Beautiful like the grenade at your feet
still has the pin is beautiful,
beautiful like the bullet that kissed your dog tags
and only went halfway through is beautiful,
beautiful like the bullet that kissed your throat
and went all the way through is beautiful.
Beautiful like the bright instruments of a British medic
in a field camp hospital clamping your veins,
and stitching your flesh, and saving your life are beautiful.
Beautiful like three bags of
Type O negative blood are beautiful.

Right there.
I want to remember this image for the rest of my life,
like I’ll remember the image
of you stepping out of a C-130 transport plane,
and realizing that when they told me
they never leave one behind,
they didn’t mean they wouldn’t leave a few pieces.
You are beautiful.
You are beautiful
like the edges of the broken pieces
of a celebratory wine bottle,
glittering like razor wire all across
the earthtone tablecloth are beautiful.
You are beautiful like the stares of people in Wal-mart
when the bang of a box sliding off a shelf
puts you screaming on the floor are beautiful.
You are beautiful like nightmares are beautiful.
You are beautiful like
“Honey, Mommy might be a little different when she gets back.”
“That’s okay. I’ll still love her, Daddy” is beautiful.

I’ll still love you, baby.
We’ll get you the help you need,
but you need to give me the knife.

This poem was originally published under the pen name Gabriel Gadfly.

-- Adam Kamerer


These staring trees know more about you
than I have ever known. I know you
only by a name, a photo, memories
gleaned second-hand from mutual friends
who knew you when I did not.
But I have this for you: I wish you
sincere peace. I wish you comfort songs
and grace songs and songs to gently crack
the egg of your new life. I wish you bright
bursting-forth into new life.

I cannot look at these old cedar men
without thinking of you. Why did you
choose this place? Did the storm and
the dark fuel you? I fancy this a place
of serenity for you, as it has been for me,
but I do not know if that thought holds
any truth, I do not know. I have only
this for you: I wish you all that you
sought and could not find. I wish you
a compass light and a fine path to
bring you to the pouring waters that
could not in life fill you up.

I expected the whimsy grins of these
strange trees to sour in your wake,
but they did not: the sun is bright,
the air is clear, and birds are filling
the trees with songs, perhaps because
you have endowed your talents to them:
I am told you had a gift for music.
So I have this for you: I wish you
the knowledge that those you loved
and who loved you will continue to
bloom, that they will embrace you
when they embrace the sun, the air,
the melodies of songbirds singing,
that the new journey you have
embarked upon will bring you back
to them in ways you and they have
not yet imagined.

In memoriam Allen Matthew Barber

This poem was originally published under the pen name Gabriel Gadfly.

-- Adam Kamerer

Derelict Girl

What can I say about your bones?
Your collarbones are empty bookshelves,
your visible ribs a pair of ladders
abandoned against a wall.
Hip bones like door knobs,
legs and arms like naked curtain rods.

Brittle fingernails like broken paving stones
leading up to the rickety porch of your mouth.
Your hair a tangle of desiccated ivy,
creeping along the trellis of your shoulders,
and, my god, this skin like fading flaking paint.

Moving past, I can’t help but slow
and peer in wonder at you.
A house not kept full soon falls into ruin,
but I know it’s not too late to restore you,
if only you would let anyone in your
locked and creaking door.

This poem was originally published under the pen name Gabriel Gadfly.

-- Adam Kamerer


I wish I could
climb these
red ladders,
climb every story
behind every cut,
and find you
at the top of your
tower of pain.

I wish I could
bring you the
smallest gem
of bright and
ardent peace.


This poem was originally published under the pen name Gabriel Gadfly.

-- Adam Kamerer


In your diary,
you’ve drawn little apricots
with faces: smiling, laughing apricots,
melancholy apricots–
little Spartan apricots driving
little Persian apricots off
black Greek cliffs.

On page 63, your daily apricot
is missing, and I like to think
he is off on some adventure,
lost in the labyrinthine underbelly
of hospital sprawl
your passage describes.

Every apricot in June shrinks,
sketched in fainter penstrokes:
ragged apricots until
the cusp of July
and a final apricot.
Ghost-eyed, half-formed,
he is staring up at me,
but no longer seeing.

This poem was originally published under the pen name Gabriel Gadfly.

-- Adam Kamerer