Poems for Ivan


by Sara Adams

Poems for Ivan is a journey through the language, mausoleums, and barbed-wire-lined tracks against the backdrop Ukraine, via trains and walking and food. Ivan is the guide at first, it seems, but that isn’t all. The more beer consumed, the deeper the journey goes. With roasted meat and sharp sticks, through intimate conversation, packs of dogs and lights in the distance, Adams keeps you walking with her narrator and Ivan, racing through this cluster of poems and re-reading—you’ll likely devour it in one sitting as we did, just to find out how it ends, go back for more and share it. If it ends, that is—look for more of her work; you will not be disappointed. (Porkbelly Press, 2016) 

20 pages
inkjet cover
open edition

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In a perfect memory, we are roasting meat in the woods.
Sharpening your stick, you tell me everything is fine.

When I hear gunshots, you say,
Don’t worry, they are just drunk.

Have you ever shot a gun, Ivan?
Only in school, you say.

What do I do about all the dogs, Ivan?
Take your beer bottle—take your bottle and shove it in his mouth
and kick him in the feet.

And if I don’t have a beer bottle? And if there are a lot of them?
Take the biggest one. Take the biggest one first.

What percent of life should I dedicate to what I really want?
Eighty-five, you answer, knife in hand.
The rest you can split amongst family and friends.



Sara Adams is a Montessori teacher in Portland, Oregon. She has work in literary magazines such as tNY Press’s Electronic Encyclopedia of Experimental Literatureand/orShampoo Poetry, and DIAGRAM. She co-wrote a full-length New Translation of Twilight with Greg Petrovic, which is available at www.fredwardbound.com. Links to publications and contact info at www.kartoshkaaaaa.com.



Nicci splits her time between exploring, telling tales, and painting girls with inky tattoos. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with a pack of roomies & rescue animals specializing in troublemaking and joy. IG: @wickedlittleheart.

“Mausoleum Candles,” (9 x 12 inches) gouache on paper.



Sara Adams’ Poems for Ivan is a modern version of Persephone’s tale. When she leads you down the “black, barbed-wired path” of Ukraine past gangs of wild dogs or into the underground monastery, you can’t turn away. You will want to linger with Ivan in the dark magic of this book.

— Janeen Pergrin Rastall, author of In the Yellowed House, Objects May Appear Closer and co-author of Heart Radicals.



reviewed by Paul David Adkins for Queen Mob’s Teahouse
reviewed at Yellow Chair Review (via Eric A. Cline)
InterviewSpeaking of Marvels 



Western Diseases (dancing girl press, 2016)