{a call to poet Adam Hughes}

former {isacoustic*} contributor Adam Hughes has two new books of poetry, as such:

Deep Cries Out to Deep, Aldrich Press (2017)
Allow the Stars to Catch Me When I Rise, Salmon Publishing (2017)

please check out some of his work, here:

below is a review I wrote for his 2012 book, as such-

Uttering The Holy
poems by Adam Hughes
NYQ Books 2012


I think of God as a man in a chair at a desk having a hard time believing. I open this book.

Sometimes completeness is a myth
worth constructing.” – {from} Meditation on the Dried and Severed Back Leg of a Grasshopper

Adam Hughes writes as if watched. By this I mean with a fussiness that says in all seriousness the toys themselves are at play. It is in this manner that faith becomes more than the one-way prayer of the worried. It is in this manner one can apply degrees of gentleness to certain tortures, and unabashedly believe.

“- a gentler torture,
the castaway, alone, mouth open, collecting drops of rain, believing
that with enough ocean, the tongue will become a raft.” – {from} The Gentler Tortures

The thing called thing for being inhuman, he calls it God, and it visits to see itself dissected. Verse is a haunt of moving parts.

I can hear the voice
of deity speaking
some extinct language–”

I forgot to turn off a light
before leaving on vacation”
“whisper a psalm in God’s dead
language, and fill my head with
scents of departure” – {from} Kairos Hymn Fragments

Hughes is not a preparatory poet; the visit is ongoing.

The end is merely
roots, clinging to nutrients no longer needed, a whispered
narration as the wind blows the snowflakes. Tomorrow
I’ll look for a sapling and call it ancient.” – {from} The Art of Decay and Time-Lapse Photography

The book itself is a monster, wrestled. To the ground, offered a hand, and dusted off. It has a Prologue, an Epilogue, and a PostScript. Its middle is a local glossary of manmade words for the spirit and for the spirit’s mourning of all things tactile. Hughes finds the shards of glass in the footprint and locates the colorless apparition of the ambitious ambiguous.

I see eyes
in the acorn fingertips
of oaks; the spent shells of locusts
cling to trunks and remember
the feeling of fullness
one year later
constellations have migrated
one click of the telescope, stars that died
before the Flood are showing their
faces of death to Earth-we’re late
in mourning their passing “ – {from} In Anticipation of the Anniversary of a Death

If we are overwhelmed, do we overwhelm God? The last stanza in the poem Travelogue had me making a bed for that worried man still at his desk.

that night I hugged
my daughter, felt her glow radiate
through my body, and was thankful
for the fog and the leaves that enveloped
the mountain

As a poet, Hughes strikes me as trying to undo the knowledge of knowing what he’s talking about. Expertise is fleeting. One must root to the permanence of undertaking. In attempting to utter the holy, Hughes success is his utterance of a perceived repetition the likes of which the reader has only just heard.


review by Barton Smock


book, in places:




person Adam Hughes, four poems

Adam Hughes is the author of four full length collections- most recently Deep Cries Out to Deep (Aldrich Press, 2017) and Allow the Stars to Catch Me When I Rise (Salmon Poetry, 2017). He lives and writes in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.



Sometimes the line between friend
and familiar is inconvenient.

I hugged him and felt his willow bones
growing out of my own roots,

exiting my skin. His bloodshot
voice echoed through me

like a windchime made from discarded
amulets, broken teacups, and the teeth

of ancient birds. After he left
I lit the altar on which we offered

our second fruits to keep ourselves warm
and sang along with the flames—

a song so hideously sacred.



I’m writing
my regrets

all my pens
the windpipes
of songbirds

the ink an opus
of the hushed,
the halted



for Buffy Hastings

I like tea. But I am not a sipper.
I gulp. After I read his words I laughed
in the shower—mainly because
the water was so warm and the room
was so cold. The fog in the bathroom
made it an upland forest
on a fall morning. I dried
in the cold of a barren coastline
and dressed among the breakers.

I sipped some water
and laid back down in bed,
warm and dry
and naked
and covered by
a million fibers
of a day not yet lived.

Next door, an unhappy
baby, nearby a mouse
moves among my scattered
bones, possessions
for another time,
and I slam my hand
against the bed
to frighten it away.
I don’t hear it anymore
but I think it’s just waiting
me out. It knows.
Today I leave, my sadness

slung over my shoulder,
fixed bayonet. A bag
of lunch and melancholy.
Poets are all

bravado in the morning
and shame in the evening
and something approaching
honesty in the night.



(originally published in the collection Deep Cries Out to Deep)

Somewhere between
streetlight-dimmed stars
and Lynchburg’s Largest Indoor Flea Market,
I share a room with a mouse.
At night, in my sleep,
my wings are molting.

Around me swirl like galaxies
the souls of midnight dancers,
mechanics in company trucks,
busloads of empty seats and lonely passengers,
clouds of plankton passing through the baleen
of a city at night.

This crenelated life, this parapet
from which we breathe against
the gravity that opposes our rising
chests—a battlement.

Through these thin walls and leaking
windows I hear
the harmony of lives that will only
cross in this exchange of sound
and speed and light. I only notice
when I think about it—the rest of the time
they pass without fanfare
and all my bricks are mortared
with their hum and subtle vibration.

Praise the firefly lamplights. Praise
the soft swoosh of cars on wet streets.
Praise the warm that glows
like a cave fire beneath these blankets.
Praise the air that sags
between us like old hammocks,
like old men for whom the glory
has moved on, like old socks
that no longer clutch
the way they used to when they were young.
Praise the altar on which we burn.

More love is the lyric
of the world that passes outside
these windows, though sometimes
the words are garbled,
songs stuck in the throat
like a swallowed fishhook.

Some nights I sit beside these windows
and I cannot get up, heavy
with unlived lives and my knees
creaking from penitence.
Outside, above the rooftops,
the sky is a fading fire.

Tonight the fugitive gods limp
away, down the street towards the rows
of liquor stores and quick marts.
In their place come new gods
and they strut with the swagger
with praise not yet cut
with disillusion. Hope lies
and lies well.

Tonight I’m another
broken psalm, another halfhearted prayer,
another forgotten feast day of another
forgotten saint, another anointing
with counterfeit oil.

When the dawn begins to streak
the horizon like blood poisoning,
I’ll wake with the courage
of a mid-road turtle,
fully believing in the strength
of my own shell, hiding
between the tires.

My heart sings ancient songs
in old dialects and the liturgy
is not translated. I follow along
for the music of the language,
but unsure of its exact meaning.
Then it comes, like a sudden
rain beneath a sun-crowned sky—
something nameless. And for a moment
the rim of my cup tastes
what lies inside. And it is good.