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




Real Gone (2011)

I never saw the need for plastic flowers
but there is one. People somewhere find a
use for solid roses and carnations.
There’s a drive I think within us to replace
what’s real with fabricated copies. Look
at fruit. Why would you need a plastic apple
ever? ‘It’s neither use nor ornament.’
as my Grandma said about my brother’s
fake fur moonboots. Philip K Dick knew that
our world is layered with the less than real
as if a facia had been laid down
over the world replacing all of us.
‘You want to read real booksh,’ said my Grandma
as the steradent frothed around her teeth.

Pizza Evening (2010)

I baked a pizza as
the hours bloomed
into a flower drowsy
drooping well-moped petals across the settee

They shrouded our shoulders
shedding a bask of carebegone

the evening spent
crumbles desiccated light
on an air dessert
fills the space between our bodies
so that we are one thing
digesting the day

Strobing rays
of the tv set flicker weakly over us
trying to schedule in
and switch off

serial killers (2008)

we like watching things about serial killers,
the fictional kind, not the ones on the news.
they’re always dead clever and manage to cope with life
better than people who don’t kill at all.
some are artistic, they paint and write operas.
they cook gourmet food, and not only the cannibals,
never have council tax problems or find
that their broadband rate’s just not what it should be.
we wonder if murder just makes you efficient
and able to deal with the death of the hours
spent in working and queuing and waiting for gasmen.
i don’t get so much from this killing of time.

sausage sandwich (2011)

the first corner bite
is like a sudden postcard from home
scribbled in grease and crust

spreading the handwriting
out into my mouth. the taste
is almost the same

my tongue probes blind for
that missing element. the signature.
the sausage rosebud.

air (2013)

they tell me there’s an exoplanet there
at terminant 729.

for now I can only dwell
in this stream of tachyons
narrowed into the
past’s bottleneck
on the cost of our shared breath.

a nebula’s long gestation
collapses to beget a sun child
in a gravity well
during which
our stretched lives
are a slice of an eyeblink.

your fast atoms have been
recycled as trees and birds
since the second day.

how much air
did we waste
and time when it ran slow
as a star
creeping across the night?

station to station (2006)

you talk like a train,
railed in from another day’s platform,
choochooing your words to a slow boil
and rattling the hood of your head. then
there’s no braking your steam driven
tongue. once you are in flight
you strew bright jewels on the line that
melt like wax in the heat of your passing
over the tracks, over the tracks, over the tracks.

we think it’s because you rattle about
at home like a lone hornby rail inside a suitcase
in the lost and found
of a quiet cold neighbourhood siding.
your thoughts set like beeswax candles of trapped chatter
stacked neatly,
ready to light the carriage;
waiting for the whistle or a
knock at the door, knock at the door, knock at the door.

The Welsh Grump (2014)

I was grumpy today

grumped by some tickler squatting in my throat
lobbing coughs into the street
that he thought I had no use for.

I wasn’t finished with them.

If I was a scouser I’d be bitter.
Gay scousers do bitter better
than any other city in the UK
studies have shown.

But I’m Welsh.
The grump is subtle
like Anthony Hopkins doing vexed
with the slight teeth grit

the half-lowered eyelid.

Crewe to Wrexham (2011)

Beyond the border stand the fortresses
grown from each mountain perch with granite seed.
The weather’s worn them to extensions, rough
Constable sketches of their firstborn youth.
Today they clampsleep, molared to the mount,
sugarsoaped of neighbours’ blood and warpaint.
Below, trees yearn to draw some truth or leaves;
pencil fingers scrabbling at the grey.
Now ranges rise embossed to see who’s here,
mist-toned into a page of Dulux shades.
This sunset over fatherland rouses
as we rattle on deeper into dusk,
farther than the Romans ever came
to hills of ‘Bongo Jazz’ and ‘Desert Peach’.

the banana (2016)

a man from iraq
on the sixteen to cricklewood
smiled at me
beamed in fact
gave me a banana

I refused but he proffered
with grinning insistence
until I accepted

he smiled
sat back
watched wide-eyed as I slid it
safe into my bag
a yellow secret between us