Roddy Williams – The Atheist Poet


A Dream of H (2012)

At fawn dawn my head
walled you into a courtyard with a bed
its duvet tongue leering at the dying stars

Humid night

We made love like making bread

Your brother slept

He’d appeared there sleeping
but rose
an opening flower
as I was preparing to leave for
the real world

He kissed me
an ambivalent exchange
written in a language
lost somewhere under the duvet
a wet rosetta grinding stone
you did not know of this

This home of yours
although strictly speaking mine
was an enclosed oasis
unknown to me
like your brother
high on an infinite escarpment
far from the water
slate sky slabbed on to distance
where a herd of huddled russet dwellings
grazed their mysterious business

You yawned your bare arm skyward
waking up


December 2012

Cold, I am told, does not really exist.
It is the absence of heat that we feel.
Cold is the natural state of it all
and we can’t handle it without warm clothes.

There is maybe no such thing as evil
just the absence of goodness in the world.
It is the lack that bites in negative
aching the white to black and black to white.

Heat will seek out cold and try to fill it.
If one puts one’s finger on a cold pane
the heat will drain away into the night.
Later the window will be just as cold.
I think of this, holding you in the night;
the heat exchange, unseen, keeping us good.

La Mare De Nuit (2012)

I am afraid of France.
I fear it will look down on me
with a nose-up glance
once I have landed
and finished looking down on it.

I fear its gravity will be different,
that I will be surrounded by mostachioed
men in raincoats who will
force me into a heavy beret
to stop me floating away.

I fear its skies
will be composed of giant brush strokes and that its weather
will be contrary
to my every choice of clothing
except the beret.

I fear its streets will
beat the soles of my feet with every step.
I will be stalked by accordionists
playing ‘La Vie En Rose’.

Cafe Owners will glare at me
from behind bloody striped clothes,
a Gauloise smoking from the corner of a downturned lip

and I fear
that my legs will adopt a british accent
while I am inevitably
running for the border

pursued by older men
with beards, torches,
ropes of garlic.

Lesser Masters (2012)

We wait to see who will make the first move
offering dual sacrifice and threat.
It is a game some say but this is just
a convenient tag to honey life.
This is the bedrock of the human soul,
the war we carry with us from the egg,
embedded in a checkerboard of genes.

I am sometimes white, you often black,
our thoughts in negative across the board
in some antagonistic harmony.
Pawns lumber shivering to work, heads bowed.
Ranks expand to Linked-in, Facebook. Your move.
Knights and bishops gallivanting out now.
You do not see me slip behind the rook.

Self Portrait, August 2012

I keep this secret of a sacred road,
whittle words into bright things with sharp points.
I give free advice to those who listen
I give the invoices to those who don’t.
I was sent godfree from the holy hills
to trap souls and save them in a black box.
Sometimes I mess with paint and people’s heads.
Comedy seeds I plant in the world’s hard ground,
small round jokes about the hydra’s back teeth.
I have a man who loves me as I am
I carry solar systems in my head,
make love like the guilt of a forgotten crime
I stalk the streets in search of mystery
but there’s a monkey on my back, driving.

in the sun (2012)

when the clouds evaporate to death
things sharpen
like a pencil
under the sun’s circling blade

a dangerous focus
swivels to scalpel a clarity

what clouds survive have crisp edges

shadows paint their boundaries
without masking tape

you are in relief
at these HDR moments

one side of you so keen
it slits my sight
plunges the other into darkness
as if sunlight splites you through
to keep your extremes at bay
till the clouds return

sew you together
with soft needles

the mating game (2012)

my focus on the
squares is lost. the sun. in my
eyes. diagonal.

my view distracted,
fractured by a clink of glass
as they kiss gently,

for the most part. this random
seating arrangement

is not so random.
jostling for position
is a social skill;

appears unconscious
for the most part. the sun had
blinded me to all this.

now in reflection
I catch swiftly concealed chinks
glint an opening

the glass pieces
form relationships on the board;
knight, rook, bishop, queen.

costa (2012)

we went to costa.
to have that conversation;
bones creaked like roast beans.

smalltalk, as dark drank
the day perched clench hungry in
a high calendar,

milk foam clouds lightly
dusted with chocolate soured
grim across the sky

and the words scummed thick
like a greasy bath tideline.

then we reached the dregs.

Timekilling (2012)

I like sunflowers. They are not what one
imagines them to be. We live in dreams.
They are scruffy-haired punk muscle-blooms
greened with a collar of untidy spikes.

When I brought them home I hoped to catch what
van Gogh caught but black and white, dramatic
hairy stems like dutchmen’s legs, supporting
scimitars of bristles, taloning up
to cast shadows of a nest of fresh claws
across the wall to the clock; time as trap.

In art they stand to represent the dead
just a temporary glory, gleaming
like these two here today, their faces set.
Petals sharpened. Clock in waiting, bides its time.

sleep (2012)

I can see sleep
watching from the shadows
at the river’s edge
licking his lips

last night he did not want me
I lay staring
at my dreams of dreams
flapping round
like landed fish

he’s lapping dancing up the banks now
teasing with his snail’s advance

embraces me

I fall for him again