Roddy Williams – The Atheist Poet


the banana (2016)

a man from iraq
on the sixteen to cricklewood
smiled at me
beamed in fact
gave me a banana

I refused but he proffered
with grinning insistence
until I accepted

he smiled
sat back
watched wide-eyed as I slid it
safe into my bag
a yellow secret between us


stupid (2016)

it’s wrong to use the stupid card
they’ve told me this. they’re right of course
it’s ignorance. that’s what it is.
they know no better though they could
have looked things up. there’s google now.
there’s no excuse to not google.
it is becoming very clear
we just don’t teach things anymore
or so I believed.

no one questions anything.
it’s in the papers. it’s a fact.
there was a woman on tv
american, she had to be.
she thought buzz aldrin was
from toy story. she’s not stupid.
she knows kanye west-kardashisface
all the rest. just not the good stuff.
that’s not just not knowing anything.
that’s not being taught shit.
it’s not learning the good shit.
that’s what that is.

first world problems (2016)

our unruly pupils keep magnetting
like those of unmet neighbours on the street
in the awkward area
the hinterland
between acquaintance and strangership

had we been alone on an empty road
we might have docked our vision
separate sets of rules would slide in place
out of range of the embarrassers
those other eyes
that would convert video
to tongue
to tell of this
precipitating rain and shame

edgware road (2016)

robertsons pawnshop, a&h brass
devonshire pharmacy, marble arch eyes
maplin and specsaver
holland and barrett
arabs debating
with semaphore ballet

cardboard box mountains
erupt from the flagstones
the homeless embellish
the doorways at night
with colours distressed
by the grime of a street artist
bake & cake, sainsburys
frowning police station

in the panini cafe
I am waiting
for something, for something
the football is on
there is scoring and roaring
it passes me by, rushes out
to the street through the patio doors

mexican wave, but it passes me by
it passes me by
in a swerve of avoidance
heads off for boots and the

chelsea sky (2016)

you’re a chelsea blue
extra extra extra large shirt
curving over a firmamental

it’s home not away
they must have done well
I can tell from the swell
of your stomach with pride

and the lack of depressing cloud
patched either side

which you never can hide

What it is (2016)

I realise with people
what it is


I dont know where to look

The face seems too
inappropriate a place
for my eyes
to slither awkwardly about

I slide off smeared shoulders
get caught by the hands
doing the accompaniment
to the blah blah blah

I come to rest
above the chest

wobbling in the adams apple cleft

poem written while vexed (2016)

because I am the voice of reason
people don’t listen
if I were the voice of madness
they would
they’d all come a shrieking
to my point of view
with their send them backs
and their eyes of blue
and their ukip bags
and their brexit flu
and their nimby nose
and their house in kew

they would
they would
I’m telling you

Summer 2016

Summer’s arrived
fashionably late
done up in blue and white
Same old gear
every year
Big fat football strip
More white than blue though

The gormless
stare godblinded
and wonder
at the sky
its dress so pale

It has to be gay marriage
or the Polish

It was in the Daily Mail

it’s got cold (2016)

I’ve had to shut the windows
it’s got cold
after today’s rain
more of a spraymist than a downpour
staining the slates
across the road
glossed five shades darker

I think the rain
will never stop now
it’s the world’s share
of grey hair
more of it each year
heavier in some parts
than others

less protection
less light
I’ve had to shut the windows tight

it’s got cold

sleep (2016)

pens, pencils tumbling to the night floor
following my conscious thoughts
dragging fresh roots of wordweeds
with them
wrenched from the head.

they scream the limits of lost syllables
as they plummet.

I cannot dream them now or
– out of reach of the fingersling –
fling them on a safe page.