Roddy Williams – The Atheist Poet

Posts tagged “sonnets

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.


The Love Repository (2010)

Everyone waiting here was once in love
They’ve been through this experience, survived,
and all have come to have the time preserved
like rich binary jam in this, the love machine.

It will rip their love to digital bits
then convert it to a small dot love file.
Users can log in to experience
the passion and the pain, the sublime bliss,

the agony of loss, red betrayal
staining the curtains, the rapture of sex
and the ubiquitous raging madness.
All can be rescued for posterity.

The queue is long, but they wait patiently.
Their love will now be truly eternal.


The Flying Cabman (2008)

I don’t know why I let you drive me mad.
The meter started ticking when I flagged
your cab that night and it’s still running.
I’m in that seat beside you, cruising
neon days, weeks months of nightshift bonus.
Crankshaft oil and water, yearning fusion
by some absurd alchemical process.
Every time I slide into that old seat
we grate the spark to clutch, to rev, to go.
I hear the slamming of passenger doors
on a summer night but i’m here alone
waiting, road and streetlights, trees and I.

You are The Flying Cabman coming back
cursed every hundred days. There is no brake.


I want to be a businessman (2007)

I want to be a businessman and dress up every day
tied and booted, shirted, suited in a soaring building,
one that gleams like a mound of burning termites at sunset;
thrusts its luminance into the river’s shattered belly.

I want to be a businessman with a mirror topped desk
and a view facing out across twenty-four towers,
shadowfingering the sun over the city’s timeface.
suits ping-pong like photons around the dial.

I want to be a businessman with a bluetoothed ear
and a browntongue mat for genuflexion.
I will slot neatly into the grind of the great machine
which sparks and hums across the pratosphere

with an esoteric logic of levels and worship.
There will be order, on demand. I will demand and order it.


your face (2007)

i on my mobile outside the blue chicken shop
see you, bright bantam-eyed, watching my empty voice
bounce on the pavement like blanks from a rain gun.
do you have my face locked safe behind your face?
you’ve seen me before, i know, haunting your space,
just in case, just in case, you escape to my head
where your face is already locked safe behind mine.

i will carry this with me under the river
through tunnels, down stairs on a long twisted journey
home to the west where i sit and assemble
the negative space round your head, shape an absence,
but more, to have captured your essence in ink and
to know when i’m ancient that there was this moment.
your face will be there, as it was, framed in words.


Barbarism (2007)

There are some people who collect barbed wire
as others gather scars or butterflies.
There’s a magazine, and a museum
where neatly-clipped exhibits gleam, point out
their genesis; their swift evolution
in an age of worship of sharp objects,
this world of barriers and grim fences.

It was created to confine the cows
in Eighteen Sixty-Three, but has spread,
a blood-spined thread chicaning round the globe.
Small fingers thrust from fist shape out the horns
as they clutch the devil’s rope. Visitors,
no doubt, will see just ingenuity
as they are herded through to the gift shop.


Knock At My Window (2010)

Knock at my window as you’re passing by;
bring me a sound of gladness. I will give
you a glass of welcome or a slow wave
like the sea acknowledging your presence

if you just pass by. And you do pass by.
I see you cross the window, a swift cloud
changing even as it stumbles over
itself, stop motioned and too fast for me.

Knock at my window as you’re passing by,
if only to break the ice that has formed
around my words, the coma that strangles
my tongue yet leaves my hand free for waving.

I have slipped into the depths by degree.
I move unwillingly, an iron tide.


in the passport photo museum (2006)

i met him in the passport photo museum
in the anonymous wing. it was a tuesday.
the walls are black. the tiny photo frames are white.
we examined each other like fresh exhibits.
we were fluent face-readers, so we said nothing,
had already twitch-exchanged that information;
acknowledged a mutual gift from a deaf god.

sometimes the vagaries of fate assume a shape;
inspiral sets of circumstances curve in tight
to a moment, a flashbulb point where lives collide
and heads are frozen while the threads change direction.
we did not speak. thoughts were broadcast to emulsion.

exposing hope to us like an eastmanly host
were ranks of turning points. our nameless witnesses.


August 2008

august in my head is a blood red sun
winched down to the horizon by a crane.
outside my head is rain and the promise
of a month under construction. hard hats
and safety gear behind the cloud’s scaffold.
this year’s anniversary was shrouded
in grey and drowned by a thundering drill.
even the olympics are muted tones
seen in soft focus through the beijing smog
like highlights from the ‘most haunted’ sports day.

and yet in my head is the blood red sun
slotting in the horizon like a coin
behind the westway and the tower blocks
crossing their windows like a relay torch.


We Are The Martians (2010)

‘We are the Martians,’ so said Quatermass
so long ago that life was black and white
and comfortable fantasies were seen
as somewhat harmless. People went to church
on Sunday and for the rest of the week
were blessedly godless but good people.

Quatermass is hardly remembered now.
Other fictions have risen from paper sand
like the clicking children of the hydra
reeling off their dogma in black and white
or else on grainy bedroom videos.
The Soldiers of The Cross have left the hymn
and slouch across the world, speaking in tongues.
‘It’s alive! It’s alive,’ screams Colin Clive.