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

there are no pleasant english words (2013)

for the curve of the arse
this attracting shape sculpted by nature
and gravity
like the edge of the earth against space
and erotically pleasing

the french say derriere
which flows in a sinewave sound
tracing the line
down a convex slope
to a plain

our terms are harsh bludgeons
on the tongue


apparition (2011)

white city tube station
that’s where I started from.
greenford by central line
a bus down to southall
I smoked a small spliff in
the park and drank cider,
watched the young indians
cricketing fiercely and
then an old lover called.


suddenly there he was
like he walked out of
a pantomime smoke bomb,
turbaned, good-looking and
stroking his beard.

life’s weird.

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

Memory Foam (2013)

They left you next to the bins
daydreamed away smiling
jokes filling the space relieved by your weight
to you who worked nights
love dreams sins

You sag
a mother’s shamed
breast weighty
with abandonment issues
the dregs of warmth
aching out through stains

They can shut their eyes
against you
resting blind in the
false promise of
new permanence

Wrinkled sheets billow back
remember when

Pillows recall
the bouncing joy
of lost springs

the wordless day (2010)

today there were no words
we had no need of any, bathed in silence
scrubbing noises from our pores
until the last one clattered
down the sinkhole,
diminished into nothing.

light moved in to populate the space
vacated by our voices
filling out the silhouettes of frozen questions
like a dozen bright balloons
bouncing against the light fittings.

they came to rest eventually
and we were at peace
voiceless in the day.

I put the draught excluder down
just in case the answers tried to
sneak in
under the door.