Roddy Williams – The Atheist Poet

Author Archive

Sid (2015)

I wait again
in a different hotel room.

‘Ring me when you’re on way.’
‘Definitely, Rodney, love,’ you say.

Patient minutes carve the light away
from day.
The shavings gather on the carpet
far too slowly.

After this amount of time,
mountain ranges of shining slivers,
you’d think he’d get my name right.


moonbeam (2014)

wrapped up like a furry danish pastry
then she snores
a harmonium sigh through a bellows

then out with the clawed pistons
and a yawn, back arched
in a pelted sine wave

the tiny tongue curves
in harmony as my love rises
like a stop motion loaf

A Dream of H (2012)

At fawn dawn my head
walled you into a courtyard with a bed
its duvet tongue leering at the dying stars

Humid night

We made love like making bread

Your brother slept

He’d appeared there sleeping
but rose
an opening flower
as I was preparing to leave for
the real world

He kissed me
an ambivalent exchange
written in a language
lost somewhere under the duvet
a wet rosetta grinding stone
you did not know of this

This home of yours
although strictly speaking mine
was an enclosed oasis
unknown to me
like your brother
high on an infinite escarpment
far from the water
slate sky slabbed on to distance
where a herd of huddled russet dwellings
grazed their mysterious business

You yawned your bare arm skyward
waking up

Found Poem – van Gogh’s letter to Anthon van Rappard

Enclosed is a scratch out of the window

I always find it wonderfully cosy
to sit by a fire in the dusk
and to look
through the window
at a snow-covered landscape

I’ve also found
that natural chalk
here in town

It’s an article
that was practically unknown to me
until now

Now though
I find it isn’t that rare
and you probably know it
and already have it

If not
I think it a singular medium
in which to draw

Adieu old chap

a handshake in thought

the magician’s table (2008)

filtered brita water, this is first, displacing
any air that’s in the chamber, measured
quite precisely by the levels printed clearly
on the window on the side of the machine.

my automated hands take down the airtight
white container and i count out three round
spoonfuls of the coffee, ground, like earth
into the filter. i’m not there, i’m in

the air, transported by the ritual i ride
along the syllables inside my head
while moving through the stations of the process
metered by my breath. i flick the switch

then fire is cabled to a hotplate and the
water sings of time and transmutation.

it would have been turquoise (2008)

if i’d got the lid off.
the sky in the background is now cobalt blue.
van gogh would have had none of that.
he’d have chopped the tube’s head off
then strangled the cat.
i don’t know what’s going on in front of the sky
i’ll paint in the foreground and then
see what comes by.
last time i painted a nun with a rifle
standing astride the stiff corpse of a priest.
i decided to call it ‘remains of the day’
their clothes were a mixture of red
and payne’s grey.
but anyway,
imagine a century passing by
and someone saying
‘see that sky…
it would have been turquoise if
he’d got the lid off.’


I’m reading poetry a lot more than i used to. My problem is that I find poems rich, like a small but intense dessert. I can manage possibly two, lingering over the nuances of each, but a third knocks something from the lustre. However, I am currently dining out on two or three a day and that is working very well for me.
It really raises for me the age old question of ‘Why is a good poem a good poem?’ and although there are I suspect books out there attempting to answer the question I am none the wiser. There are poems that stand out for me and stay in the mind, but I can not fully explain what that magical element is that sets them apart from the rest.
Being a geek and somewhat OCD I have started a database of memorable poems and authors – just the titles, authors’ names and the publication details. This may seem an odd notion but the truth is I have a terrible problem with names. I get stuck trying to recall names of close friends and family sometimes. Faceless authors stand no chance unless there is something memorable about the name and even then it’s fifty fifty. This will hopefully help me keep track of the poets I like and will also help me cross reference their work in other publications.
There is one poem I am searching for at the moment. It’s by Jon Oyster (I think) and is a poem based on the Fawlty Towers episode where a guest died in bed and Basil thought it was because he was given out of date kippers. If anybody can tell me where it was published please let me know.
For me it was the final proof, if any were needed, that one can write poems – exceedingly good poems in fact – about anything.

In bed (2004)

My lover snores beside me in our bed
while I, my back toward him, scribble notes
tuned only to the thoughts inside my head
(My muse is pleased by this and no doubt gloats)

as traffic grumbles past and now and then
a siren woohoos like a camp banshee
whom God has given wheels and speed, my pen
unflinching, scratches on to quatrain three

where great profound important things are said
about the issues that affect us all,
but think instead of pies, the cost of bread
and what that noise is coming from the hall.

The final lines are done, their meaning clear
and yet I feel I’m missing something here.

monotonitheic rituals (2008)

colours lie like tarantino bad men.
black and white films are carved from truth.
they are the books of a lost bible
the light of god is in the white bits
his voice is score, soundtrack and dialogue
and most of the prophets are dead
which is usually the case
and maybe just as well.
living prophets tend to get sectioned.

we could turn the churches into cinemas
‘now voyager’ on sunday,
‘blossoms in the dust’ the next.
‘the bride of frankenstein’ and ‘eraserhead’
at midnight mass.
jonathan ross could become
archbishop of canterbury and arbitrate
on obscure matters of theology
and all issues would be seen
as black and white.
what a difference it would make.

Me (2016)

These days I am roused by
the call of the mild

I just can’t be doing with
mad gallivanting

rampant shenanigans
pasties and drugs

I’d rather find me
with a nice cup of tea

Midsomer Murders
on ITV three