Saint Friend by Carl Adamshick

If a collection of poetry at its best can at once be a confession, an elegy, a history, a love lyric, penned in the two-hearted language of retrospect, Saint Friend is such an achievement. This book speaks with a foreign tongue requiring no translation. It reads like the story of the stranger you see daily. It puts you in the cockpit of a downed plane rising, higher and higher.

Not with bombast but with crispness of perspective, Adamshick re-sods trodden territory. He universalizes the personal and shrinks the universe. He’ll leave you awed in the realization it wasn’t you who likened your mother’s hand to a star nor you who utilized an orange when describing emotional rending. But, somehow, it wasn’t him, either. Yielding texture to the slightest touch yet sticking to the ribs like concrete, the poetry of Saint Friend is at its core people poetry. That is, it’s a work inextricable from you, from those who made you, from those who’ve gone away. Saint Friend is as much Carl Adamshick’s book as it is yours. You’ll have a chance to hear him read from the book when he joins Emily Kendal Frey at Open Books on November 21st.


I told a friend to celebrate
the end of a love.

I think, I’ve told him too many things.

His heart has fallen.

He is grieving,
it is not failure hollowing out his bones.

I’ve seen him on the corner,
the streetlight pushing

a shadow through his spine,
the moonlight laying another one

he could step into if he crossed the lawn.



February Seventh

There are two paintings
one on top of the other.
There is the life told to you
and the one you understand
know.          There is memory
and you now          now
now as always          an exile
or emigrant within the borders
of your skin.          Tell me again
how you fear people
only get so smart          how the future
will be the same as the past
how the cage of the brain
was locked upon us.


February Tenth

I have an enemy I don’t want to conquer
a favorite tree in the park
ten blocks from here. I have a love
I can’t express well enough
often enough. The tree is a blue atlas cedar
its needles          in the rain
never look wet.          Growing up
I talked to the road near my house
when it was barren and its straight miles
were buried under an eternity of moonlight.