Roddy Williams – The Atheist Poet


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.

We Are The Martians (2010)

‘We are the Martians,’ so said Quatermass
so long ago that life was black and white
and comfortable fantasies were seen
as somewhat harmless. People went to church
on Sunday and for the rest of the week
were blessedly godless but good people.

Quatermass is hardly remembered now.
Other fictions have risen from paper sand
like the clicking children of the hydra
reeling off their dogma in black and white
or else on grainy bedroom videos.
The Soldiers of The Cross have left the hymn
and slouch across the world, speaking in tongues.
‘It’s alive! It’s alive,’ screams Colin Clive.

The Symphony of Bees (2010)

In shirtsleeves abuzz with torchbeams and joy
he was there in my dream unexpected
but welcome. He comes to me sometimes with
answers to questions that hibernated,
pressed crisp like flowers between the years’ pages,
delivers them as a metamorphor
of smoke into my blessed sleep. Then he goes,
out like a light, but a trace lingers on
as the faintest musk. Now I am awake
he drains from me, words, droning rivulets
running into each other, transforming
to the single sound of him, an essence
humming through my head like a choir of bees
in the final bars of a lost duet.

April 2010

My legs don’t half give me jip these mornings.
I’m creaking despite the old rose hip cure.
I’ve seen fifty springs. This is fifty-one.
The rings are blurred though, nothing really clear.

There’s this sort of resurrection feel
about them you don’t get with March. Not March.
Marches are shrugging the cold, stumbling,
not shuffling off the big coat just yet.

April is yawning, rising like meercats
taking a look round the world in the sun.
There are sharp new shadows on the pavement
like the claws of things grown during long sleep
slicing out sly hair from crooked armpits.
We stare at them as if we were reborn.

the children of adam (2010)

he was soon borne away by the waves
and lost in darkness and distance.
But his tale is still here like a
virulent meme, thrashing around
in the washed-up ears on the sand.

told tales evolve, are sea-changed like the truth
into sharper, faster, more exciting
versions. They compete for space
in a landscape of multi-stories.

the more successful get retold
with added evolutionary advantages
like subplots and resolution

and this will be carried to the future
where they will one day return to this beach
to try and find the real story
but will only find the fossils of ears cracked like shells
and distant relatives of dead myths.

The Hotel (2010)

There’s a blue violin in the foyer.
There’s a picture of Sacha Distel.
I would ask you to play it, but know that I can’t
as we don’t know each other that well.

Seven monkeys are watching the station
to see who goes in or comes out.
One stands in his own pool of lamplight.
One checks on his brothers for doubt.

There’s a woman who sits in the basement
slowly drowning in old books and time.
Her face is a song made of parchment.
Her hands are cathedrals of grime.

There’s a window that no one looks out of.
Its shutters are varnished with sin.
I want us to go and walk round to the garden
to stand on the grass and look in.