Roddy Williams – The Atheist Poet

stockwell road (2007)

up stockwell road past the brick baptist church;
the steep-stepped houses vivid with red tales;
the portuguese, grinning over coffees,
close mouthed swarthy parts of a gestalt god;

past all these, along a tight dry pavement
patrolled by steel sherman double-buggies
and lipstick armoured mothers, hair dragged back
in the stylistic grip of victim chic;

past the tin-towered mazes of food shops
staffed by dark young angels, (they speak in tongues)
and the road curving off to dumb estates
till the pavement swells like a stone delta

and the grim gaping gob of stockwell tube
swallows you like a whale. tides you away.

published in Aesthetica, February 2007

I struggle with sonnets. I wrote my first in about 1979 and returned to them around the time I wrote this. I always feel that I am missing something, that I don’t really understand what a sonnet is all about.
I imagine that is why I write so many. I try to write at least one a month, the first usually being named after the month itself, in an attempt to capture the essence of the time. There’s usually some kind of weather metaphor or theme in these and I’ve found after a period of years, that they’ve evolved into a kind of diary cum memory palace, since there are allusions to events of the time. They drag back memories that do not necessarily manifest within the poem itself. It’s interesting that something like these can hold additional meanings. I’m wondering if that’s the same for others.


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