Two Poems

 By Paul David Adkins

Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan Dig For Clams While Stranded
on Nikumaroro Island

What do we know
about clams?

I was raised on Lake Michigan.
Amelia was a farm girl.

As a boy I spied mussels
sprouting in the oily shallows
near Chicago.

I reached for one.
My mother slapped my hand.

I remembered that moment
my entire life.

My life which now
on rooting the clams
burrowing in sand
fast as a man
can dig.

Thank God we salvaged
cans to boil them in.
They hang above the flames
on a length of rudder wire.

This could be a party:

chilled in the night air,

a man and a woman
sitting on a beach
by a bonfire,

splitting the shells
with a penknife,

arranging the shucked halves
open in rows
to catch the rain,

the dew
which descends
each morning
light as snow on a lake.


How Beth Bachmann’s Temper and Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno’s
Slamming Open the Door Changed My Life in Iraq

Have you ever been lost,
so lost the maps you held
gave no hint of place,

and the road
stark as a black ribbon
cinching a box of dust?

When I held the broken compass to my chest,
loss’ azimuth adjusted,

how the needle spun
fast as the wheel on the Game of Life.

Clouds obscured the sun,
shadows refused me

I littered the nearby earth
with crooked sundials.

I read
The head is damaged and cannot read this image
and understood
can you tell me
where to turn.

This was not a question
but a discerning of vultures
in the haze.

What they eyed so keenly
from the updraft
in this country pocked with death

must have been human
though it collapsed on itself now
like a ransacked city,

ribs of the dead
arching the doors of their houses,
femurs studding the walls.

About Paul David Adkins

Paul David Adkins lives in New York and works as a counselor.

Paul David Adkins

Paul David Adkins is online at