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Terry Adams

The Licker of Sweet Walls

Alien I come 
to you who feeds me 
in my dream-prowl;
half-wittingly, in your sleep, 
   the lingering prayer
of hunger, in kinship 
of hands, and easy flip 
      of your pet door.
I prowl the cat-abandoned garage,
as headlights sweep 
under the door, 
a bed creaks somewhere—
makes me freeze, as  
         I wash and gobble 
your gift, lick the dish clean.
I rake the kibble dust 
out of the broom, 
I lick the stiff flakes on the 
crumpled foil, the frosting 
petrified on cardboard.
          I eat the tissue wadded 
with face smells. And over here
the open plastic cooler smeared 
with Coke and egg, mustard-streaked,
the rubberized pickle—  
                    ah       I climb in there 
as into the very mouth of the beast 
who provides in sleep, lick and wipe 
and rub the richness, 
wade into the mire of taste,
          and twist and go with a claw 
at the smooth corners, at crusts of sugar
popping like scabs. I snuffle
full face down onto the smooth, lickable 
meal, until the thing simply
          tips, teeters, 
and falls, snapping the lid
closed, then I scramble upright, 
gain the lick of the top and the new

crumbs which sprinkle my fur,
and twist all around until it is clean.
          And there is no way out, nothing 
gives way no heaped leaves, 
no screen ajar, the snag-less 
corners are tight, walls curve back, 
the claws slip, the teeth strain 
through the lips,
scrape for any edge, but there is 
     none, nor      a breeze, 
nor room for a tongue 
to dissolve the dirt over a beaded crack, 
and the air becomes dim with 
the doped clock of home 
calling, as from 
             the other foragers, chirruping 
outside, back-walking, stretching up, 
pacing and licking the 
storm-drain floor, 
calling and sniffing for the missing 
one, who is dying here, 
the breath restrained
     with each breath more, 
in the unknowing mouth, 
the plastic trap of 
someone sleeping.


Terry Adams has poems in Poetry (Chicago), Ironwood, The Sun, Witness, College English, Bellowing Ark, The Sand Hill Review, and elsewhere. His first collection, Adam’s Ribs, came out from Off the Grid Press in 2008. He lives in Ken Kesey’s infamous 1960’s cabin in La Honda, California.

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