Roddy Williams – The Atheist Poet


sugar baby (2017)

boy with the wave
you should lay off the sugar
you should
it’s not good
your mother would tell you
I tell you she would
she’d say ‘keep off the sugar
ya little fat bugger
you’ll die before christmas
of doughnuts and pies.
it’s sweet on the tongue
but goes straight to the thighs.’

I tell you she would
maybe that should be should


Jungle Politics (2016)

‘He wouldn’t have had that job,’ squawked Deepak,
‘if he wasn’t Alan Hawke’s nephew.’
‘He’s not,’ I countered, cuttlefish blunt.
‘He’s not?’
‘No. Never has been. Just a rumour.’

That ruffled his feathers.
He hates me now
for having rejected this offering,
this morselworm of gossip
which may have
elevated his beak
to nearer the peak
in the pecking order,
extra nectar points
on his office cred card.

It might have lasted the week.

the four stars hotel (2016)

has no stars
no lift
no room
to heft the cat before the swing

yet it was first class
filled me right up to the hilton
with satisfaction

no satisfaction card

you can smoke out the window
while someone stands naked
behind you

that’s where the stars come from

the sign (2016)

you know those signs
the yellow sandwich boards
they prop on floors
in every coffee shop
and takeaway
the ones that say
‘caution! wet floor!’?


I’d like to have one made
quietly tiptoe
sneaked into caffe nero
then left
all proud and splayed
that says
‘caution! dangerous yellow sign!’

changeling child (2016)

When I saw the changeling sat there
I was stuck to find an action.
Do I tell the doting parents
of my visions, my suspicions?
I was quick to mask expressions
poker-faced against the tide.
It was the eyes, the knowing eyes.
They reflected something kindred,
with two saucersful of strangeness.
There’s a dawning recognition
growing in the air between us
like the waking of a lotus
slowly irising to wonder
at the secret growing darker
on the petals white as lies.

the black dog (2016)

the dog arrives
he’s that phone call we all dread
he hangs up in my depression
i call it that
it’s lower than the world
it’s nice and warm

he’s a difficult guest
to evict
keeps coming back

sometimes without calling

to lick at my welcome
with a gilt tongue
his nasty rasped lash

then curls up and watches
my mouth

I can feel the stillheavy
of the receiver like
the visitor

for whom
one keeps smiling
the thanxious smile

Me (2016)

These days I am roused by
the call of the mild

I just can’t be doing with
mad gallivanting

rampant shenanigans
pasties and drugs

I’d rather find me
with a nice cup of tea

Midsomer Murders
on ITV three

weathering (2016)

these headstones
gaussian blurred
by time’s brassrubbing
into something it can recognise
without those edges
those words slicing sharpness that
it can never
curve the smooth rumba past

the dead are slowly worn
to forgetfulness
ground ground
as memories are sanded down
rounded into
dream bokeh
mossy grain

kfc (2016)

he tripped in kfc
milkshake lava slowmo foaming
over tiles
then staff erupting
efficient termites
sprouting buckets, mops, signs and smiles
tackling this vast disaster
fretting milkshake from the grouting
‘do I get another milkshake?’

I’m still waiting there to order
while they’re making molehills
into milkshake mordor mountains.

the neighbour’s cat (2016)

black and white cat
trap patient
set waiting on the child high wall
furred flat by sun.
a young boy’s scream
‘that cat scared me!’
registered, is unacknowledged.
an eyelid raises
a claw sighting
then slowmo droops
slides to the lock position.

she’ll get him on his way back.