Three Poems | by Patrick Williams

Every Eyelid Has Two Sides

When we rode in borrowed
clothes and your horse had
pulled you oh so far from me,
I should have thought of eyelids.

Instead, I took your picture:
small, but so distinct against
the snow-masked lavaplain.
Safety orange head to toe.
I couldn’t see your tears, frozen
and congruent to every nearby pixel.

Jonathan would always turn
his eyelids inside out in school,
to make us laugh in quiet time.
He taught me mumblety-peg
out front once his mother’d gone.
A cherished chance to maybe hurt
each other, but in a brave way.

When I see myself blink in video
delay, I think of gripping my teeth
on the edge of front and back seat,
tasting the burgundy vinyl piping
of our primer-gray Volare bench.

We wore shirts backwards
for paints. We played at dentist or
veterinarian. We watched the crows
trash our campsite from half a mile
off shore. Binoculars never flicker;
they only gaze and lay in wait.




Our Newspeak

is mostly French, but only present tense,
nearly every word appended by
the partitive article, like du this
and des that. Our Newspeak is effortless,
we communicate in half-words, half a
world from what we have. Our Newspeak
isn’t complex, or communicable,
or even that much fun, but we have much
to describe. Our Newspeak is kept alive
in precious vessels we will soon delete.




Leaving Laurelland

In thicknesses at camp festivals,
in parks & yards, marked men
are always shirtless. Among them
no common chest piece; no united
tribal band across the lot. The way
my sister tells it, some tangential varsity
diver had a set of keys to the studio
at Restland where they made-up
pre-wake corpses.

Meanwhile, our surplus chases
glaciers past subtropics, past tropics
in a race so slow your vibe determines
if you notice, but far too swiftly
to be considered glacial in the strictest
technical sense. Whatever it was
that happened next I think lived again
later: a rowdy audience watched me,
thinly selfed in a square of white wall,
barfing pitch black on TRI-X reversal.
That moment sent hoards pulsing west
across twelfth avenue to drink our water,
to devour our share of kale. Joke’s on them,
though; our style of paradise is genuine
Superfund site.




Patrick Williams is a poet and academic librarian living in Central New York. His recent work appears or is forthcoming in publications including The Bennington Review, Public Pool, Sea Foam Magazine, and Posit. His chapbook Hygiene in Reading (Publishing Genius, 2016) was awarded the 2015 Chris Toll Memorial Prize. He edits Really System, a journal of poetry and extensible poetics and is the hands behind Find him at and on Twitter @activitystory.






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