Roddy Williams – The Atheist Poet


Valentine’s Day (2012)

I could just buy a massive tractor
massive as my love
rage it over fields carving hearts
around radishes

ravishing the shrivelled rest
into the background
to my passion

Or I could gallop
a six cylinder turbo roar metaphor
with the horsepower of my heart
across the hills
enough to throb
carrots from their graves
beets from their deaf roots

or I could just get a card

and some nice flowers


green shoes (2006)

green shoes he had. he must be mad
to walk about in them, yes green.
what? you mean you haven’t seen ‘em?
yes he had them on in asda.
he must have been to town for them.
you can’t buy them round here,
not green, luv, no, i would have seen
them, green ones. yes luv. they’d stand out.

green!… green!… , yes green. green shoes, eileen.
i know, i said that, who’s to know?
he could have painted them himself,
of course, with paint, you’re right, for show.
no luv, I don’t think he’s foreign,
he was buying milk and spam.
yes, fancy going out like that
just to show off and buy your tea.

Murder (2010)

We love a good murder
often of a Wednesday or a Sunday.
Dinner on our knees,
cooling slowly like blood on kitchen tiles.

The first body’s discovered about fifteen minutes in.
Someone may scream and drop a tray
of tea or breakfast.

Then it’s adverts.
I don’t like eating during adverts.
it seems a waste of pleasure.
I wait until Part Two,
slice into the meat as
the Inspector is
standing over the body
asking the pathologist for his off-the-record opinion
while the Sergeant interviews the tray-dropper.

the man from crossroads (2007)

he used to be in crossroads.
now he’s on the central line. five seats along.
he loved a girl with lips
as big as small tench and his dad was violent.

he’s doing sudoku now
and he’s got his hair all different.

his mum stabbed his dad and he took the blame,
went to some midlands prison
until the truth came out.
i can’t remember what happened to the girl
with lips as big as small tench.

i think she got pregnant
and he died tragically
professing his love as his contract ended.

and here he is alive, doing sudoku
on the central line
with his hair all different,
wondering why i’m staring at him
with a quizzical frown.

November 2009

This was published in 2011 in issue 8 of the much missed magazine ‘Anon’. I like writing sonnets. I have no idea whether I write them properly or not. I tend to head for fourteen lines and stop when I get there. They seem to get published though so I must be doing something right.

my new hat (2011)

i’ve bought a new hat
wide and black as the night
with a coat to help anchor
the brim to the head.

i can see it from here
broad and felt as an ironed crow
bred to perch on my brow
and croak omens to kings.

it’s not what i’m used to
this hat thing. this hat thing
is loaded with time.
it’s an antique device

that will sepia my head
to the past, not let go.

Nectar (2010)

I save my love in nectar points.
My card, my loyalty is yours.
I swipe myself against your cheek.
You hold my balance tenderly.

I will Facebook you on Tuesday
(Monday’s all day World of Warcraft.
I will fight for you online)
I will stamp my love in Costa

points toward my free love latte.
My Tesco clubcard love for you
arrived, a dark blue envelope
with vouchers for some discount pastries.

My love is flat with rounded corners.
Nothing can be hurt by that.
My oyster love will carry you
across the city in my plastic heart.

in the sauna (2009)

in order to avoid
sex with you
i agreed to have coffee
in front of a fish tank
where tropical chaperones cruised
coral alleyways policed
the space between us
into which you threw old things

the snow
tube stations
times past
closed bars
small talk sinking like
disregarded ants’ eggs into yesterday
while beyond your shoulder’s reef
a fresh current beckoned

a lazy curve through
concealing kelp
into the future
winked like the
slow second hand of
a shark’s tail in passing

Yaroo! Beast! (2016)

Back to Greyfriars I go
welcoming me with plummy words
vowelling in an English limbo

Pupils get hampers
postal orders
Nothing changes
year to year

The boys do Latin prep
a regular prayer
apart from Bunter

Fat face of anarchy

He does not change either
changes nothing but
his yellow jacket
that once smelt of paper and jam
not this kindling coat
that smells of nothing

I say you fellows
outside though
on this side of the wall
Bunters have taken over
fat owls are let loose into the world

Fat faces of anarchy

Hymn No 243 (2016)

Oh Lord above and all around
And inside all our vests
Permeating cavities and
Underneath our breasts

Please take us home when we are dead
And rotting in our coffins
Oh help us not believe the lies
Of evil science boffins

Oh Lord above us in our shoes
And nestling in our pants
Please help us stay in blissful states
Of mindless ignor-antze