Two poems by Justin Adams

Blue Heron

On the bare ridge behind the clapboards in the company town,
a rusted out flatbed’s crumpled around a telephone pole,
been there since before the thaw.
Some dirt farmer from the holler – never caught his name –
come to haul coal.

My sister heard it, nursing her youngest by the stove –
heard the crash up back the house
and left him swaddled in blankets
in a peach crate on the floor.

Snow up to her knees, she ran up there, best she could
but couldn’t do nothing. He was too broken.
Probably already gone.

So she left him there till the shift ended
and the men could see to it. And my sister –
she went back to her babies


The Farm Auction

They came in wagons,
rusty flatbeds and sleek sedans,
and stood in loose half-circles of near neighbors,
kin, loose acquaintances.

Most showed up just to see what it’d go for –
the old homeplace, the stables
with their chipped red paint,
the implements in the shed
by the catalpa tree.

The real buyers stood on the fringe
in fedoras and said little.
They had their plats and figures,
calculated what it was worth
down to the penny.

They waited,
wingtips dusted with the red clay
of the place, just this once.


Justin Adams teaches middle school Language Arts at Olmstead School in rural southwestern Kentucky, where he and his creative writing students have started The Rambler Review to publish their work in-house. Adams’ poetry has appeared in The Round Table, Pensworth, and 2nd & Church.