Roddy Williams – The Atheist Poet


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

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

Angels (2012)

There are no angels here
that will own up, come clean
and show their wings.

I’d thought them in hiding;
a kind of godless protection programme.
New names, a house. Jobs.

Maybe they have forgotten
who they are
and how to fly,

have grounded themselves
in houses drenched
with christmas lights

or else keep racing pigeons
lovingly housed in kits
on precarious ledges.

They will have blistered feet
no belly buttons
facial hair or nipples

I’ve tried to seek them out.
I’ve searched and searched.
But nothing… Nothing.