Roddy Williams – The Atheist Poet


26/8/12 (2012)

Because Neil Armstrong’s passed away
at lightspeed
it will all decay
devoured by entropy moths
like an orbit
or an Apollo t-shirt.

He was holding it all together
a common sense gravity machine
but now the moon is a myth again
just a grey hat on a high shelf
moulting threads for fresh weavings.

Space itself will have a smaller meaning.
The universe will shrink in the wash
to goats
sewn into the black folds.

And those in Plato’s cave
will pull down God
wrap him round themselves

like the emperor’s




Silent Movie (2008)

On the fingertips of a spiral arm,
one of four hundred billion gleaming points
orbiting a centre we’ll never reach
whose glory broadcast for our reception
before the dinosaurs passed. At its fast
heart beats an unseen singularity.

There space and time have collapsed, conceived a
nothingness, deleting solar systems
as a candle deals with dust, oblivious,
mindless as the place where prayers go to die.

Please don’t ask why. Why should there be a why?
Just worship what there is. The stars are just
recordings from the sky in silent screen.
They could dead by now, and we so small.

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.

Cocoa Beach – Nov 2007

Today I took a walk up to the beach
all by myself, to face the Atlantic,
not like the surfers do, all challenging
in-your-wave-face canuteys

but like a supplicant, with reverence.
This if anything is our creator
breaking like a wet heart upon the sand
oblivious to its driftwood offspring.

The exciting thing is knowing all this,
not bothering to share it with the world.
Let them keep their dry bibles and baked words.
I will hold this secret for their children

and the vision of their joyful fathers
skimmed like flat stones over the thoughts of God.

The Drowning Man (2008)

You remind me of that bible story about the drowning man
who expects God to save him.
He dies and asks why God didn’t save him
and God says ‘I sent you a motor boat and
a helicopter.’

You’re quite right
There were no helicopters in the bible…
Or motor boats.

It must have been made up later,
after helicopters were invented,
but that’s not the point.
The man did not see that God was
trying to save him.

Well, yes, the man was dead
when he found that out.

I don’t know how we know
what God said, but that’s not the point.

It’s a story.

I don’t see what’s funny about that!
You should be drowning, not laughing.

Wing (2010)

An angelwing was sprayed on to the blue;
a contrail streamered by a raking wind.
Some may, no doubt, see signs of the divine
in these flatulent remains, the sky’s dregs.

And yet, there’s something great there all the same.
I wondered as I watched if only I
had witnessed this. No one looks up these days
not unless a voice calls from above.

There was no voice, by the way, just in case
you think I’m heading in that direction,
just this great wing with its wind carved feathers
arcing to the left of the setting sun.
It was random, senseless, magnificent.
Then it was gone; didn’t leave a message.

monday (2006)

is the struggle to awaken

and appreciate

the metaphor of watching

that poor beetle in the bathtub.

i shoved the tissue under him and

took him to the window.

he thinks i’m god. i’ve taken him

from purgatory to


he’ll tell the other beetles

of my godcup lake of godcoffee

my godly smoke, my godly frown,

my godly morning news

and my noisy godly craps.


i try to climb the god enamel.

god keeps turning on the taps.

the emissary (2013)

god brought us together
so i can explain slowly
that he doesn’t exist

it’s a paradox i know
but the truest things are opposites
they’re strange attractors

believers and the godless
yearn to warp the needles
of the others’ knitting

my money’s on me
to be making the jumper
with the strongest wool

Give us a Sign (2009)

Still no sign of God.
I’ve called and left messages
and had no reply.

I even prayed for
a valid e-mail address
that I could write to.

He should move with the times
in a mysterious way
but mostly forward,

set up call centres,
Mumbai and New Delhi.
We could ring and

complain to ofGod
if we can’t get a response.
Then they can fine him.

Angels (2012)

There are no angels here
that will own up, come clean
and show their wings.

I’d thought them in hiding;
a kind of godless protection programme.
New names, a house. Jobs.

Maybe they have forgotten
who they are
and how to fly,

have grounded themselves
in houses drenched
with christmas lights

or else keep racing pigeons
lovingly housed in kits
on precarious ledges.

They will have blistered feet
no belly buttons
facial hair or nipples

I’ve tried to seek them out.
I’ve searched and searched.
But nothing… Nothing.