Thank you!

This is Adam’s sister. I just went through and approved all comments to his poems and I am blown away by the response to his work. Adam died in June of 2015. It is truly amazing to see his legacy live on. Please continue to share his words with anyone you think would enjoy their beauty and thank you again.
Dr. Adam Aaron Gray’s Obituary


Sitting in Bryant Park With You


Sitting in Bryant Park With You

Is even more fun than singing Bon Jovi
with Puerto Ricans in Old San Juan,
or faking my German through East Berlin
clubs, or even ditching out of the studio,
my vintage Fender guitar still buzzing through
the neglected amp as I dashed out
on my friend to meet you in Washington Square.
Partly because in your red summer dress
you look like a happier St. Anne
(saint of the childless), partly
because of my infatuation with you,
partly because your love of donuts,
partly because of the descending fountain,
men playing bocce, the impromptu reading room,
the elegant NYPL standing sentinel over us,
partly the secrecy of our smiles,
like we know something
they don’t.

It is hard to believe when I’m with you
there can be anything as still,
as pleasantly definitive,
as absolutely rooted when we are right
in front of it in the diffuse
4pm New York light as your ear rising
like the spire of the Chrysler Building
through the shrouds of your hair
that will cascade across my chest
like a sunset later.
Drifting back and forth
between each other like the Atlantic
Ocean reaching thirstily
for the beach at Coney Island.
And the throngs of people
seem to have no faces at all and you wonder
why in the world anyone ever put them here.

I look at you and I would rather
look at you than all the portraits
on Earth except possibly
for Henri’s “Young Girl” occasionally
and besides that’s in the Detroit Institute
of Arts which, thank God,
I’ll never have any reason to go back to,
yet you haven’t been, so maybe we can go
together the first time. And the fact
that you move so beautifully takes care
of both modernity and post-modernity
so at home I never think of the Met
or free Fridays at MoMA, or of a single
drawing of Picasso that used to wow me.
What good does researching the Cubists
do when they never got the right person
to sit across a table from them in Bryant Park
while the sun peaked, or while
they ate ice cream from a street
vendor outside the library in summer?

It seems like they were all robbed
of some divine experience
which is not going to be lost on me this time
which is why I’m writing to you about it.

Ariel’s Eulogy for the Sea


Ariel’s Eulogy for the Sea

This is it, girl: you’re on your own
from here on out. Triton’s hand fanning

out across the horizon won’t change
things back again. You wanted this:

to shuck the fins and stride over
the deck of Eric’s ship. The crustacean,

the fish, the bird of whom you were
attached at the hip receding into the wake.

I can still hear my sisters’ whispers but they
don’t know the heft of carrying the human heart

while upright. They’ve lost sight of the purpose – it wasn’t
to love, but to have a voice. To wrap your legs around the entire galaxy.

Religious Experience


Religious Experience

My first New York blizzard ended up being downgraded
to a winter storm. I kind of had a feeling. I liked walking
to the subway in it before its reduction in rank, being inside
of it while I parted the sidewalk traffic like Heston in that Classic Movie.
I was still new here, a tourist in my own town, out of season.
The wind was like a brick wall and the fruit stands had iced over.

In my empty two-bedroom the power flickered out so I took
that heavy silence as a blessing and slid under the covers to dry.
The water on the sill seemed to turn blood red like a bush on fire,
while not being consumed by the flames and then the frogs came
and then the locusts. Thousands of them and all night long.
I couldn’t sleep and then I couldn’t not sleep anymore. I woke
hours later to silence. No frogs. No locusts. Vanished forever
as if Moses had stood up and said, alright, enough already.

Before New York City

Before New York City

Head in my hands in the left
field stands at the Tigers and Mets.
Dance away my divorce and run
around town with anyone who would
take me in. I’m not too choosey about
the company I keep or whose apartment
I’m in when I fall asleep, but I met you
at a Village dive and because of your shirt
called you “my sweet Cobain.”

Couldn’t part my hair right
before New York City.
Didn’t spend my nights right
before New York City.
Wouldn’t live my life right
without New York City.
But I’m there,
and I’m there
and I’m there.

It was 1994 and we sat on the floor
by my locker after study hall. Or, were we
sketching out plans behind the football stands
trying to make sense? The obvious choice
for our generation’s voice was gone, gone,
gone. We sorted through the pain, tried to dance
it away and now it’s finally fine, my sweet Cobain.

Couldn’t part my hair right
before New York City.
Didn’t spend my nights right
before New York City.
Wouldn’t live my life right
without New York City.
But I’m there,
and I’m there
and I’m there.

To make a living with words seemed
so goddamned absurd when I found myself
at Jasper Ridge. Or the Brooklyn
Bridge where we had both dreamed we would
sit talking Whitman and Hart Crane.
I walked there after class with my umbrella on my arm
and just savored the rain. Having a voice is a difficult
choice, my sweet Cobain.

Couldn’t part my hair right
before New York City.
Didn’t spend my nights right
before New York City.
Wouldn’t live my life right
without New York City.
But I’m there,
and I’m there
and I’m there.

From the Lower East Side clubs to the Brooklyn pubs
this place is goddamned insane. Jammed into subway
cars, a town without stars, making out
under a sky of circling planes. Where we both
dreamed we would stand and hold someone else’s
hand and forget some past space, some past pain.
Sitting in your place with wine and Nevermind
for days upon days, my sweet Cobain.

Sad Dictionary


Sad Dictionary

Give me a little time, if you will,
to understand how the past can just come and go,
resembling birds converging on a windowsill
and then dispersing, each with work to do.

In your yard today I looked at your tree
and imagined a place where pine needles
snow down all year, and the maple’s leaves,
all ocher, litter broken walkways. And me?

Well, I sat thinking the same dark things
I have thought since childhood. You know the ones.
I need not explain them to you, of all people.
It’s so easy to call things “dark” — a kind of lazy

shorthand for “sad.” Too easy to forget how to define
your creed on days like today — everyone needs to
be happy in your eyes. We both know this is not possible,
that it’s a lie. I mean, take last night–

How can one be happy in your eyes? Sometimes, I
convince myself that all this will never fall away, barring
the “cruel to be kind” thing and all that. Dark things,
yes; here I am again.

Then, I get so scared of the pine needles, the maple leaves,
the crow perched on his balcony waiting to be fed
and watching us. My own voice mumbling in a strange room.

Easy to worry. Always easy. And my Lutheran
mother who lectured me on this? She danced herself
to dust with worry. But I am not ready, just yet,
to be completely broken. I have a few things left in me,
a few surprises.

No magic is as good as your magic, but I have
hidden cards pressed against my wrist,
a few coins slipped behind the watch, just for us.
I still have a few tricks left to play, and this

light shifting through the library window,
ricocheting off the stacks, I know
what it means. I get what you are trying to get at.
I am here, with our song, I am here.

And yes, sometimes things defy definition, and some things
cannot be understood, so all I can do today is rise
from this chair to greet the afternoon. Breathe slower and slower.
Wait for you to blind me with another storm of hot stars.

Oh, Paleo


Oh, Paleo

In a moment of weakness (I’m a man, after all), I cheat
and order the biggest Sicilian pie
that my neighborhood will deliver
at 2am when I’ve been on fire writing
for four hours straight. And after, like a one-night
stand, I find the experience to have been
both sordid and sort of shameful, but sadly beautiful, too.
The cat looks at me with those eyes. I know, I know.
The buzz of an incoming text shakes me like
heartache and I promise
this is the last time. Tomorrow, I will slink back
to beautiful meats, lush cheeses and poignant
red-wine, safe in the knowledge that I’ll be
killing it on the beach on Coney Island when
the weather turns and that I’ll never stray again.

Luke and Goob

photo (31)

Luke and Goob

I met you randomly paired as office mates,
I was a mama’s boy whose mama just died.
You never minded when I’d teach my class
and after, just wanted to sit on the floor and cry.
You handed me a brandy Manhattan after I gave the eulogy.
Oh, my brother I never even knew how good you’d be to me.
I never knew how good you’d be to me.

Bad-asses, funny, sentimental as hell, but serious as death itself.
Chucking beer cans at the Atlantic Ocean, singing Journey
with Puerto Ricans in San Juan, drinking boxed wine
and talking shit in my rat-hole apartment on Third Street until dawn.
Oh, my brother I never even knew how good you’d be to me.
I never knew how good you’d be to me.

Two introverts strutting through the world with leather
jackets and blue jeans. I never knew how good you’d be to me.
And no matter how bad things seemed, my brother, it was you
who held me up with an arm around the shoulder, or your
words flashing across my screen like the police officer
who flashed before us while we drank Oberons on Front Street.

And we’ve made the best of the transition, done our best not
to sell out, but man, I’m proud of you, and more or less, we’re
both convincing everyone else we’re real adults.
I never knew how good you’d be to me. Calling you from Harlem
in the middle of the night after she left me and you got me to laugh
about some girls at the Upfront. Remembering how we used
to go out dancing on Monday night, just because.
Baby, I never knew how good you’d be to me.

For you, this is Springsteen’s “Bobby Jean.”
And I just wanted to let you know that I know how good you’ve been to me.

Detroit Love Song

Detroit Love Song

Oh, baby with your eyes so hue.
We can’t take it this flow whenever.
I need to fold you in my charms.
And never let you low, forever.
I live you with all of my start.
Baby, live me just one more bliss.
Whisper it into my near.
Baby, just one more bliss.
My wan and lonely.
You wake me weak in my needs.
Will you starry me?
With this ring I’ve finally shed?

To Another Narcissist


To Another Narcissist

I cannot believe that there’s
not another world where we
will sit and read poems to each other,
ignoring each others’ words and only
focusing on the reflection that never
satisfies. On my desktop, the corner
of my screen flickers green with your message
and I catch a spot I nicked when shaving this morning
while I minimize everything before taking lunch.
We have fought in the same wars, infantry
that have been busted back to Basic Training –
a little wiser and a little sadder — yet, I wonder
if this friendship will sustain, or if it will be forgotten
like the single orchid I purchased for you as an olive branch,
or if we’ll both lose our toeholds one day
and finally fall in and drown.