Doing It In Your Head, By Terry Adams

Doing It In Your Head
by Terry Adams

This candidate for stepsister,
Sherry, is playing arithmetic games with the son’s father
in the dining room with the potential stepmother
Fifteen plus eighty six? Dad asks.
Sherry flops her shoulders forward,
opens her mouth, squints her eyes,
and tilts her head way back until she looks
like a birdbath.
Suddenly dad turns to son, who is staring at Sherry,
expecting an answer.
Son stammers ninety nine.
Dad is visibly embarrassed with son, potential stepmom decides
the cookies are ready. Sherry stops being
a birdbath and says no,
a hundred and one.

Next question,
son folds himself backward at the neck,
opens his mouth like a birdbath
thinking he’ll get the answer that way,
and dad backhands him off his chair for making fun of Sherry.

Later Sherry explains to her possible stepbrother
how she says the numbers out loud in her head,
and she’ll show him how to kiss, too,
if he’ll come out in the hallway after everyone
is asleep. In the hallway she asks if he has been saying
numbers in his head the way she showed him.
The son says yes.
She says: kissing is the same thing except you say mmm,
mmm instead of numbers, you squint
your mouth instead of your eyes,
and you don’t tilt back
quite as far.




Terry Adams has poems in Poetry (Chicago), Ironwood, The Sun, Witness, Bellowing Ark, etc.  My book is Adam’s Ribs, from Off The Grid Press, in Weld, Maine.  I restored and live in Ken Kesey’s infamous cabin in La Honda, California, and right now I am very thankful for the RAIN!

RWJ issue 4

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Winter 2014-15 Issue 4

Submissions Now Open for Winter Issue 4. Theme: Play

Red Wolf Journal requests your submissions for its Winter 2014/2015 Issue #4, and invites your poems to “Play”.

Play sparks the imagination. It’s an actor’s word, maybe Gielgud playing Hamlet, or a child’s imaginative play as Freud described. Or perhaps playful pursuits of the heart, play the field, play around. We play a song, and fall under music’s spell. We play for time, for attention, play into someone’s hands. We play waiting games, we play chicken, play fast and loose, play hooky, play possum, and who amongst us hasn’t played the fool or played to the gallery.

Play stirs memories. As Thackeray said, “I’ve played a second fiddle all through life.” Play leads to regrets and bitterness. Play is deeply human. We play rough. Careless. Without thought. We play endlessly at being human.

Life and play are symbiotic, and not restricted to humans. Animals play. Kittens, puppies tussle and tug and learn as they play. We even suggest that nature plays – the wind playing with leaves, wind playing in the clouds …

Play includes risk. We play with fire, run with the hare and hunt with the hound. One child, on the swing, wants to go higher and higher “push me, push me!” she calls, while another sees monsters in shadows, and giggles away fright. Flirting, teasing, crawling into dark places–just to see what’s there–are all play. Play involves risk because life involves risk. Play is discovering our personal limits. Play is practise for… not-play.

So come and Play with us. Send us your poems that Play.


Please review the submission guidelines and send your poems in the body of an email to: redwolfjournal AT gmail DOT com. Please do not send attachments.

Poems are published on an on-going and random basis on this site. Each posting is announced on the Red Wolf Journal page on Facebook. Your poem may be published at any time from October 2014 to January 2015. The entire collection will be released in PDF format in January 2015.

The Editors of the Winter 2014 Issue

Red Wolf Journal is a periodic publication of Red Wolf Poems (formerly known as We Write Poems).