R. S. Williams

All I want is to get the words right.

Friday Photo: 12/2/16


“Long December”

Heard County, Georgia – 7 December 2015

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Wednesday Photo: 11/30/2016


“Autumn Feathers on Green Enamel”
Heard County, Georgia – 29 October 2016

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Hillside Monday: 11/28/16


“Sidewalk Chalk Robot”
LaGrange, Georgia – 5 October 2015

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Caturday: 11/26/16


You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.
— Octavia E. Butler

“Why Aren’t You Writing?” (#1 in a series)
Model: Clark
LaGrange, Georgia – 15 October 2016

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Forest Floor, Autumn Drought


Heard County, Georgia – 30 October 2016

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Happy Thanksgiving 2016

GratitudeInStainedGlass_2014-11-27COPY 14.08.43-1

“Gratitude in Stained Glass”
Heard County, Georgia – 27 November 2014

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Wednesday Photo: 11/23/16


“Oak Leaf with Drought and Acid Rain”
Heard County, Georgia – 30 October 2016

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Song in the Key of Why


Fifteen years have passed since I jiggled open the always-half-sticky lock. Fifteen years since the old hatchback Mustang and I left clouds of black gravel dust behind us as we raced out around the driveway curve where the tulip poplars crowded together. Fifteen years since I gathered the last of my old furniture into a big boxy truck and, sobbing, walked that last Via Dolorosa out across the threshold.

Never again will I trudge up the twelve steep steps from the car to the front deck. Never again will I narrowly miss ramming the whiskey-barrel-bound banana tree that nobody could convince to bear fruit. Never again will I scuff the battleship-blank two-by-fours under my shoes. Never again will I notice how that expressionless gray is peeling off in long shoddy strips because of the late-December-freezing-rain-why-bother-with-primer paint job I gave it three Christmases before our lives broke forever into a thousand splintered shards.

Never again will I pray that nobody remembered to set the burglar alarm. Never again will I dread the questions on the other side of the door. Never again will I wonder why I bothered coming back at all.

I don’t know why I kept the key.

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)


Hillside Monday: 11/21/16


“If Marvolene Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy”
LaGrange, Georgia – 21 May 2014

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Caturday: 11/19/16


I suppose half of writing is overcoming the revulsion you feel when you sit down to it.

— Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being

“Cat, Chair, Linoleum” (#Caturday model: Hook, aka Davy)

LaGrange, Georgia – 9 May 2014

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Morning Sun with Bourbon and Glass


“Morning Sun with Bourbon and Glass”

LaGrange, Georgia – 1 November 2016


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Ray & Dot, February 1970


When I browse old family photos, sometimes I see faces I don’t recognize. On occasion, the context reveals who they are: Oh yeah, that’s So-and-So’s friend from Scouts. See the t-shirt? 

Mostly, though, I cannot identify these people from the clues in the image. Their pictures often include no descriptive caption on the back, or perhaps a brief, unhelpful scrawl. In the washboard-rough dirt road of images in this forty-five-year-old photo album, these photos are mud holes. They are in here for some reason that I cannot figure out. I cannot help splashing through them again and again.

On the back of this picture, in Palmer-Method-plus-a-lifetime cursive, someone wrote “Ray & Dot.” And that’s all. I do not recognize their faces. In all my years of eavesdropping on grown-up conversations, I do not recall my grandparents, or their many friends, ever mentioning anybody named Ray or Dot.

As was the Kodak 110 photo lab custom of the time, the white border is stamped “FEB 70,” to denote the image was processed and printed in February 1970. No telling whether the photo was taken in February 1970. If the photographer was like many amateur family snapshotters back then, the film could’ve been exposed for months or even years before she or he finally thought to get it developed. The right edge has been cut away at a scissors-in-the-right-hand angle.

I showed the photo to my mother and my sister. Neither recognized the faces or names. The setting, though, looked familiar to Mom. “They might be at the old Rock Mills Cemetery, where Mildred’s folks are buried. Who in the family died in February 1970?” Nobody that I could think of, right off. I suggested to Mom that the background could also be the cemetery behind Paran Baptist Church, an eighth of a mile from the Georgia line on Alabama Highway 22. “Yep. Could be Paran. And it could be the big cemetery in Roanoke, too.” She sipped her coffee.  “But I still have no idea who these people are.”

Ray and Dot are dressed in fashionable clothing for the late 1960s and early 1970s, and are pretty stylish for people who look to have been about twenty years older than my grandparents. Dot’s long-sleeved, high-necked green dress and brown purse suggest fall: cooler weather, but not quite coat season. The green dress also tells me this occasion was not a funeral, as does Ray’s rumpled light tan suit. A church homecoming, perhaps? Dot’s corsage indicates she was someone special at this gathering.

While Ray squints into the sun at the camera, Dot turns toward him and smiles broadly, as if anticipating the funny remark he’s on the edge of making now that somebody’s taking his picture for the hundredth time today. Do they know the dark-suited fellow in the background who’s strolling off into the cemetery? Are they about to hop into that big brown Chevy and rumble down narrow two-lane roads to their house? Are they married? To one another?

I cannot answer any of these questions. Chances are that I never will. Just the same, forty-five years after someone froze this moment onto light-sensitive paper, I keep Ray and Dot in my photo album—and in my heart.

“Ray & Dot, February 1970” – original photographer unknown
© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)


Wednesday Photo: 11/16/16


“Brass Incense Bowl with Afternoon Light”

LaGrange, Georgia – 23 August 2015

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“I always iron on Friday night,” my friend said—as if this were indisputable fact, a universal law. A hot soleplate in motion tends to stay in motion. A sleeve board at rest tends to stay at rest.

Grief and loss made me understand.

Fold, flip, press, turn. Collars, cuffs, creases stiff and sharp. Sprinkle bottle, starch bottle, fffffft-ffffft-ffffffffft. Tablecloth, napkin, kitchen curtain, apron—clean, tidy, there. Dress, skirt, pants, shirt—ready, neat, there.

Hiss of steam through linen, shhh shhhh shhhhh shhhhhhhhhhh. Crisp pop of cotton before the board. Sizzling incense-scent of water, starch, stainless steel. Wrinkled turns smooth. Cold turns warm. Stale turns fresh. Messy turns neat. Busy turns quiet. Soothing rhythm, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth—an old, old liturgy echoes through the house.

With every pass of hot metal against cloth, axiom inches closer to holy office. Every crisp, gleaming item now a prayer of solace, an offering to renewal.

To iron is to trust in tomorrow.


© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)


Hillside Monday: 11/14/16


“Rainy Day, First Light”


LaGrange, Georgia – 21 January 2016

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Caturday: 11/12/16


My major problem is finding the next word.
— Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being

“My Writing Companion”
#Caturday model: Clark
LaGrange, Georgia – 24 October 2016

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Waiting, with Graphic Patterns


Nashville, Tennessee – 18 September 2015

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Wednesday Photo: 11/9/16


“Autumn Leaves, No. 1”
Heard County, Georgia – 10 October 2015

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Hillside Monday: 11/7/16


“Toy Car with Carpet and Wall”
LaGrange, Georgia – 1 September 2016

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Caturday: 11/5/16


If you have Voices you’d better listen to them and let the form take care of itself.
— Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being

“The Face of Mayhem”
Model: Nooz (aka Tennessee)
LaGrange, Georgia – 26 September 2014

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)


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