Roddy Williams – The Atheist Poet


susceptible (2013)

I get really fuzzy ITV and a bit of BBC1.
one in each eye
usually independently
but sometimes both at once.

I’m susceptible the doctors say
following intensive probes and
initial disbelief.
I’m receptive
to broadcast modern culture.

If it gets serious, they say,
I could start getting channel 5.
That’s the worst case scenario.


the chief petty officer (2013)

your anger’s like the water in an argos kettle
battering its fists on a cheap lid.
your mouth can’t help it
lets go of anything
not loose lips so much as careless.
they just don’t care.

those socks do you no favours either.
your moaning; it’s professional.
i’d pay good money for someone like you
to moan on my behalf

with your round flat face
like a platter of fried grouch.

there must be good money in that.
you should look into it.

headlines II (2013)

mobile phone youth stabbed to death
stationary body horror in park
mother moved by public response
police rush out appeal for calm
public opinion of police shifts
police move to calm fears
trust in police slides
PM flies back to crisis
trust in everything collapses
newspapers run out of verbs


clouds (2013)

about six pm
near the end of july
and the hammersmith and city line

the clouds will be perfect
simpsons clouds
flat bottomed baguettes of
crisp fluff

i will be on a train
on my way home to you

at the same time
early september
the clouds start looking dirty
like old fridge ice
that’s discovered it can fly

but i will still be etc. etc.


May 2013

Racing like sperm for the welcoming bus doors,
old random act of desperate access,
we are somehow united in one aim.

Lost in this unnatural press of strangers
throwing instincts into a gene panic.
Though still we sit in pairs like chromosomes.

The oyster island stare is then deployed,
eyes glazing past the ears of those on board
these barrels of dodgy DNA.

They’re not accepted. Faces draw a blank
against those lists we’ve captured in our heads;
the tallied loved and hated, lost, betrayed.

These passengers could be first class but they
are just untested genes, at least today.


In The Victory II (2013)

Crisp packets
reimagining a lost waltz round a bollard
under the cold scrutiny
of the sky and I.

Now a tango
can joins them
bringing the thought that
everything has a history.

Not so long ago their frocks
were full and waiting strictly like
for the approach.

Now here they are
after a grand adventure
free of baggage by
dint of randomness
and quantum physics.

Dancing. While it lasts.


Pink (2013)

you are the cheapest crayon in the box
you gaudy, milkblood deadly shitshade
you are the colour of a young girl’s scream
so loud, so piercing of the day
it dies, fades to night
leaving you to bleed across the clouds

you are what one wears
when in mourning for good taste
if they vomited in disney films
this is the colour they would paint it
diluted red
like rosé for the blind
and the culturally dead.


summer (2013)

summer got up late
dozing under cloud’s duvet
missed his first morning

now sun, no warning
squeezing our heads for sweat drops
fat yellow bully

even in the night
the heat thief stalks us stealing
dreams at hot knifepoint

in evening’s relief
redeemed becomes an artist
stripes streets with long gold


multicultural day (2013)

chubby indian
your ipod headphones are pants
that leak shit music

plain english training
makes english so plain no one
wants to marry it

the new woman brought
tunisian sweeties in
to bribe us to love

chinese takeaway
not took away, delivered
they brought the wrong things


the emissary (2013)

god brought us together
so i can explain slowly
that he doesn’t exist

it’s a paradox i know
but the truest things are opposites
they’re strange attractors

believers and the godless
yearn to warp the needles
of the others’ knitting

my money’s on me
to be making the jumper
with the strongest wool