Roddy Williams – The Atheist Poet


Cell division (2016)

Through the city’s belly
I grumble back
cosseted by empty carriages
spined downwards by the humming heaven stairs.

Young man shouting something
to himself near the ankle
of the last tube leg.

The antibodies risk a glance between ourselves.
He’s invisible.

‘We’re not like that,’ we promise.
‘Not like that.’


You Said (2016)

That wrapped tauntseed planted
beneath the tree.
‘You said you wanted one,’ you said.
You said no more.
That ‘you said’ sprouted
scouting roots along the nerves
to what I said.

I’d spied a telescope in Ryman’s window.
Was that the wanted thing I said?
I didn’t want it though.
He said I did, so did I?
Did I? What was said
about this Schrodinger’s present
whose existence hinged
on what was said? I racked my head
My ganglions bled.
Unconnected refugee thoughts fled
for countries with less questions.

Finally I peeled this paper puzzle tangerine
solved the rind around the box.

‘It’s not a telescope,’ I said.
‘I didn’t know you wanted one.’
‘I don’t.’
He raked his head.

late and inexpensive valentine gifts (2008)

I could buy you a
kfc bucket of love.
bring it home by bus.

the hallmark channel
in a dvd box set
delivered by lorry.

jamie oliver
and all of his special pans
kidnapped, in a van.

well, maybe not that.
oliver’s not an appropriate
symbol for undying love

and I’d never get a word in
edgewise, sideways
round the back. it wouldn’t work.

perhaps I’ll give you
one kiss witnessed by the sky
then walk you home.

Owls (2016)

They glide silently
have the technology
swoop to their prey without
waking the air

They are my
sort of birds
with their off balance skulls
the soft panpipe presaging
something’s last breath
wooing the marriage of beauty
and death

There’s those eyes
that we dull onto placemats
and prints
blinding ourselves to
wetblinking terror
the real but I know that

a vicious efficiency nests
in my crest
staring this message fierce
catchlighting snatching
a small piece of moon
from the dark lake

Winter’s Grip (2015)

Winter’s cwtched us starved
of hope
of our mad bad will

Teardrops crack underfoot

Blackthought dog skates close

Do you hear the bait breath
beat the long days’ hollow?

My tongue curves words arced
to the dark from their meanings

No one can catch them

Having seen Godzilla (2015)

There was a beforeimage.

The door closed on us then
we did not see the battle
between them or how it ended.

I was left not only with my cheap tv set
but also
the afterimage
of silhouettes sprayed on to the mist

fuzzy monuments of rage.
They hissed as they cooled
to a fixed point.

This became remains
not fossilised but saved
into this editable format

morphed, evolved,
sang itself to a new song

created its own being.

Oh how this returns to me
with its minuscule changing
as if beaten
with mindhammers to another shape
by tiny monster hands.

In a bad place (2015)

Have you called him?
He is in a bad place right now.
I know how bad the place is.
I have no need to call.
I’m in the next room
with the big light on

the big door locked.

Where is this place
so bad yet with a phone? I can’t
call, no. I am
busy bleeding, well lit.
I’ve been juggling
with worry razors.

They’ve cut the line.


Browbeating (2015)

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.