Roddy Williams – The Atheist Poet

2008

percy pigs (2008)

he bought me percy pigs
but i don’t like percy pigs.
they’re pink and taste of vile intentions
smell like the seat of a pervert’s car.

he knows i don’t like percy pigs
and yet he bought me percy pigs.
they’re sweet as liar’s lips and
he should know i’ve had enough of those.

i’ve said i don’t like percy pigs
so why’s he bought me percy pigs?
he’ll have to eat them cold himself
like humble pie, words or revenge.


The Flying Cabman (2008)

I don’t know why I let you drive me mad.
The meter started ticking when I flagged
your cab that night and it’s still running.
I’m in that seat beside you, cruising
neon days, weeks months of nightshift bonus.
Crankshaft oil and water, yearning fusion
by some absurd alchemical process.
Every time I slide into that old seat
we grate the spark to clutch, to rev, to go.
I hear the slamming of passenger doors
on a summer night but i’m here alone
waiting, road and streetlights, trees and I.

You are The Flying Cabman coming back
cursed every hundred days. There is no brake.


the lesser spotted hardback (2008)

nestled in his hands, trembled
like a fresh mischief
hatched narrow into his head.
eyes tiptoed trepid
across the plumage, lying
perfect. wings outstretched.
but he had to release it
back to the shelf roost.
he has no real headspace for
pinions of that size
flapping words about the house.
one strong beat of a
cover could shatter his arm
or his perfect shell;
something might be introduced
that he’s not used to.
he might learn to fly himself.
then where would he be?


two streets (2008)

under the window there’s a car
with the noise trying to get out.
it has to be a man.
women don’t need to be loud to be noticed
and the music wouldn’t want to get away.
we’re watching corrie,
old enough not to need the theme tune
to rattle the panes.

david’s pushed his mam down the stairs
and he’s making his girlfriend lie.
he plays his mother like a blonde-stringed ukelele.

the car’s gone now
i turn back to the other street
but hear music escaping, sounds of pursuit
as the beat wah-wahs past like a
speed garage squad car
– but without the car-
during the adverts.

there’s an ‘oi!’ carried down the road by slapping trainers.
he stops to pick up random notes that
squeak and fade.

hang on! familiar brass. part two.
diedre’s been drenched by a passing vanman
vernon’s mates are jamming in the yard
with binlids.

overlaying that’s a tiny bass
beating like a ferret’s heart
‘where are ya? just you get back here!’

it’s behind our tv.
footsteps dissolve into the sound
of rita telling sally
that everything will be all right
‘you can always stay with me, chook
for as long as you need to.’

the rhythm slows to the beat of the credits,
nestles into the warm curves of a trumpet


August 2008

august in my head is a blood red sun
winched down to the horizon by a crane.
outside my head is rain and the promise
of a month under construction. hard hats
and safety gear behind the cloud’s scaffold.
this year’s anniversary was shrouded
in grey and drowned by a thundering drill.
even the olympics are muted tones
seen in soft focus through the beijing smog
like highlights from the ‘most haunted’ sports day.

and yet in my head is the blood red sun
slotting in the horizon like a coin
behind the westway and the tower blocks
crossing their windows like a relay torch.


somewhere (2008)

somewhere in a bucket in france are some pebbles
holding the da da da da of our love
whatever that da da da da may be.

we sat near the bucket with pain-de-la-something
and vin-de-le-something
that’s wine,
and flicked in the pebbles one at a time.

making a wish with each buckety clunk
till the pain-de-la-something
was pain-de-la-crumbs
and all of the wine was drunk.

what was my wish that i made as the
splish water splayed up the galvanised sides?

what was my wish?
that i could recall
the detail, the beauty, the all of it all.


Excerpt from my Haiku Diary 3/12/08

we are cold smokers
all three wise monkeys doing
‘pocket no evil’


1976 (2008)

mr goodwin said
‘homework is a self portrait’
splayed examples like magician’s cards

then conjured us home
with paint and sugar paper.
i bore them like myrrh

it may have been then
the magic quickened, conceived
the thing or maybe

when he hung them all
on an empty wall, waited
in silence, then spoke.

his words have escaped
from my head like tricksy doves
but his face is there

and i recognise
his joy, his hunger for our
naive sleight of hand

because i caught it
like a bullet in the teeth
that was there all the time.


neck rash (2008)

he had a neck rash
right in front of me. it dragged
me fascinated
by the colour of it.
dulux would have called it
dusky plum or auberjazz.
i could have drawn in tree trunks
on his neck
down to the collar
and turned his pain to blossom
like a quick and late van gogh.

then my mobile rang.
i last saw him
diving into marks and spencer.
the tinny voice was saying
‘dusky?… oberwhat?’


next thursday (2008)

i will be cracking the egg of a dream from the inside,
sluicing off the albumen, teethbrushing,
gazing at my newborn face to spot
the tiny change each hatching brings
and listen as the tom waits filter voice
of coffee croons above the news
of kitchen blues.
i’ll hover naked for a while
between the smile of dermot murnaghan and work.
a tide of e-mail. i’ll be canute of the desk.
‘stop!’ i’ll say. i do each day. they don’t.
i’ll return, wet from casual text
to where my lover waits
warm as a grinning seal. then
we’ll melt slowly
into each other and the evening
and a dream will harden about me.

why do you ask?