Roddy Williams – The Atheist Poet


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


the wordless day (2010)

today there were no words
we had no need of any, bathed in silence
scrubbing noises from our pores
until the last one clattered
down the sinkhole,
diminished into nothing.

light moved in to populate the space
vacated by our voices
filling out the silhouettes of frozen questions
like a dozen bright balloons
bouncing against the light fittings.

they came to rest eventually
and we were at peace
voiceless in the day.

I put the draught excluder down
just in case the answers tried to
sneak in
under the door.

i heart you (2010)

the awful power of the internet
is that you can fall in love with people
you have never met, and they don’t just go,
they hang like half-developed polaroids
from freaky washing lines inside your head.

you can give them love, via a website.
three hearts a day. it’s rationed, like the war,
love is. there just may be black market hearts
available from some organ hacker
but I’ll stick with my meagre allowance.

I can spread my love around like butter
on different sorts of man-shaped bread slices
and people send love back, but then they go,
fade like pictures bleached away by sunlight.

Heads (after George Meredith) (2010)

At last we parley: we so strangely dumb
so blind to one another’s presence here.
The intersecting axes of our lives
whisk us past like moons in tongueless orbit.

We have the other’s face held safe and burned
inside our heads. We know them like the ways
of walking home, the silent threads of known.
We can not let them go. They’ve made their home

within our window’s worldview. On a shelf
there is a line of heads that stretches off
into the past and darkness. You were there,
in line but in the shadow of a moon.

Now words have passed between us, you will shift
out from your dumb neighbours into the light.

The Strange Table (2010)

I think he sits at the strange table
cradling his cappuccino
just because the table’s strangeness
complements him like a piece of
jigsaw that is shaped correctly
though it does not fit the picture.
I think he sits there sifting through
the segments of his fractured knowing
looking for at least the edges,
cracks that boundary existence,
slot himself into the world.

A sepia cast incongruous
hangs about the corner where
he holds the table for a time
cradling his cappuccino
now, I realise, because it
ties him to the cup and saucer,
makes him part of the surroundings
blurring edges of his strangeness.
If he didn’t he may wander
off to places where his strangeness
wasn’t strange at all and where
cappuccinos don’t exist.

August 2010

I steal these faces from random strangers
rendered mute by heat and humidity.
Patient one-eyed predator, I pounce,
ferry expressions home in a black box,
stash them neatly labelled with the rest,
a hide where August nurtures a flint heart.
Glints of winter wriggle out through the cracks
to the sunshine, steal the shape of rain
through the window, bouncing mad on the slate.
The sun returns but the heart remains chill.
My thoughts skirt round it like a survey team.
Where is the source? It shows no signs of thaw
reaching out to grab September’s shirt tails.
The faces point. It’s lodged behind my ribs.

The Visitant (2010)

I can see him there now
wavering at the corner
like a rogue channel sliding
through on an old aerial
ghosting into my head

He is often owling around
hunched slightly forward
through the soft feathered dusk
silent as a slippered eel at these times.
He turns his head to glance at me.

No one else seems perturbed
by his presence.
They have grown accustomed
to him, or else they do not see.
Today he was just standing there

as if his static nature
would remove him from sight
or notice. He is still
and uncertain at the edges;
may be thinning, like paint.

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.

The Love Repository (2010)

Everyone waiting here was once in love
They’ve been through this experience, survived,
and all have come to have the time preserved
like rich binary jam in this, the love machine.

It will rip their love to digital bits
then convert it to a small dot love file.
Users can log in to experience
the passion and the pain, the sublime bliss,

the agony of loss, red betrayal
staining the curtains, the rapture of sex
and the ubiquitous raging madness.
All can be rescued for posterity.

The queue is long, but they wait patiently.
Their love will now be truly eternal.

Knock At My Window (2010)

Knock at my window as you’re passing by;
bring me a sound of gladness. I will give
you a glass of welcome or a slow wave
like the sea acknowledging your presence

if you just pass by. And you do pass by.
I see you cross the window, a swift cloud
changing even as it stumbles over
itself, stop motioned and too fast for me.

Knock at my window as you’re passing by,
if only to break the ice that has formed
around my words, the coma that strangles
my tongue yet leaves my hand free for waving.

I have slipped into the depths by degree.
I move unwillingly, an iron tide.