Terry Adams

Terry Adams

Terry is an only child, having provided mothering training and opportunities to a large Irish female family. His mid-west rearing ended in an MA in English from Miami University, Ohio. For more of his poems see terryadamspoetry.net. His first collection, Adam’s Ribs, is from Off The Grid Press, in Weld, Maine. He lives in Ken Kesey’s infamous 1960’s cabin in La Honda, California.

Poem on Belonging

Mom & Terry at 18 months


I am from my family which became at least three
families before I was 12,  
but I go back to remembering myself a toddler, toted on an aproned hip to breakfast of
Sun-Maid raisins, milk (always milk), Aunt Jemima pancakes, and I am still wondering 
how Cheerios are made round.    I was high-chaired, nose-wiped –
in the odor of fresh coal-fire winter mornings.

I am a wartime household of Kansas City Irish sisters, eating victory garden pole-beans, 
enlisted to help save tin-foil balls, rubber-band and spare-string balls, 
and I wish they were still alive –  Aunt Helen, forever crossing herself, who swept
the creamery after-hours,
Aunt Agnes tapping her black Shillelagh cane, railroad-capped Great-Aunt Grace late
of convent life, and Mother with her thin Angelic face.

I was carried so much I learned to stand and warm my toes in apron pockets.
I am from Arm & Hammer cleaner boxes, Calumet baking soda tubes, spoon-fed,
while tenors around the fireplace sang.   Face dab-washed with spitted cloths
multi times per day., 

I collected cereal box-top, cut-out, folding toys, thread spindles, pencil stubs.
I am scraps of our firewood made into battleships,
once a balloon for a dirigible.  .

My mittens were stringed through pea-coat sleeves, then ear-flaps
of my hat were tied –  into sidewalk snow I shuffled.
I am the little Laddie from ‘nose to grindstone,’ parachute-sewing, mother, 
napping before her midnight shift.     
I am  “A long way To Tipperary –  Irish “Gig” on the radio.
I was from father who mightn’t come back from Bastogne Dunkirk, waiting.
Newsreel P-51s nosed over the carrier deck in flames.  
On the radio happy news – the steady march of French cities liberated

I have an Old photo of me in sailor-hat and wooden stroller, rolling in the noon 
as the sun beaned on mother’s freckled face.
I got to watch the treasured wringer washer, 
and fear the coal-bin,  the back yard trash fires. 
I am still the first time 
I was sent to the out-house alone.
I am that first dime I fisted onto the collection plate for the poor, next door.
Ma Bell, Rosie Riveter, Ghibelline eyeliner, paper dress-patterns.
I am from Gingham aprons galore, steam radiators knocking,

Always the Angelus before dinner:
Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariæ,
Et concepit de Spiritu Sancto.

Six or eight bare knees on that painted wooden floor. 
I was kissed good-night against six or eight breasts before every sleep, my forehead 
wetted by sweaty cheeks, wiry necks,    & prayed the Lord
our souls to keep.
It’s all in one small attic photo box, and the accents of the Emerald Isle
I heard everyday.   The Emerald Isle, which I’ve never seen.

Copyright © 2022 by Terry Adams. Used with permission of the author.

Civic Engagement

Co-Founder, La Honda Lit Nite

“If you’re driving Highway 84 and see this sign by the side of the road, it’s Lit Nite in La Honda, California. Once a month, locals gather out of the redwood forest into Sullivan’s Pub to read or recite before a live, friendly, and somewhat lubricated audience in the bar. Participants include building contractors, a gardener, a veterinarian, a high school student, a goat farmer, a singer, a teacher, a nuclear physicist, dropouts, published writers. They read from their own work, or they read from books. They read poetry, stories, rants, even a comic book. The event is hosted by myself (unknown novelist) and Terry Adams (unknown poet). We’ve been doing it for a couple of years now, last Wednesday of the month. It’s fun; it’s friendly; it brings us together; it lets us try out our voices and our ideas. It brings literature down to earth.”

La Honda Lit Nite Co-Founder Joe Cottonwood, quoted in The New Yorker

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