R.S. Williams

All I want is to get the words right.

Author: R.S. Williams (page 3 of 60)

Hillside Monday: 1/29/18

“Spider Lily, Early Autumn”
LaGrange, Georgia – 16 September 2017

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Caturday: 1/27/18

“Two Cats with Old Vinyl Floor”
LaGrange, Georgia – 22 July 2015
Models: Lucinda (foreground) and Buddy

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Friday Photo: 1/26/18

“Plenty of Half-and-Half”
Waffle House #614
Marietta, Georgia – 15 July 2017

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Wednesday Photo: 1/24/18

“Waiting on a Train, Part 18”
Anniston, Alabama – 12 August 2017

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New work in Eyedrum Periodically!

I’m delighted to announce that Eyedrum Periodically has published two of my photos in their latest, Issue 17: The Future.  And, holy moly, y’all: They liked one of those photos so much that they put it on the cover.  (Click the link above to see “As I Fall Where I Stand in the Street” and “Looking into a Future I Cannot Name” along with the great writing and art in Issue 17.)  Thank you again to editors Bryant O’Hara and Alice Gordon for this wonderful opportunity!

Photo: Self-Portrait by Kitchen Door (LaGrange, Georgia – 22 April 2015)
“Writing well is the best revenge” t-shirt © Eden M. Kennedy

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)


Hillside Monday: 1/22/18

People seem surprised at how many species of wild birds make their home in Hillside’s trees. Unlike some neighborhoods, Hillside features relatively large wooded areas full of mature oaks, pines, hickories, and poplars. These areas—a few of which cover entire city blocks—are perfect for owls, hawks, and woodpeckers, to name just a few birds I’ve seen around here.

I spent a delightful hour browsing The Feather Atlas, courtesy of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. I’m still not sure about this feather. It could be from a nighthawk. Or a downy woodpecker. Or a red-bellied woodpecker. Or a yellow-bellied sapsucker. I need more coffee.

“This Feather Is Mocking Me”
LaGrange, Georgia – 17 November 2015

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Caturday: 1/20/18

“Sleepy Hank”
LaGrange, Georgia – 10 November 2017

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Friday Photo: 1/19/18

“Willow (Barred Owl), in Flight”
Pine Mountain, Georgia – 27 December 2016

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Looking East from My Father’s Grave

Heard County, Georgia – 3 April 2015

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Wednesday Photo: 1/17/18

“Reflections in a Kiddie Pool Frog Pond”
Heard County, Georgia – 27 September 2015

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Before they were his, they were hide.

Before the goatskin was stripped of flesh, bone, sinew, it cinched fur in follicle, held together bone, gut, muscle, bile. Three square feet of full-grain hide would one day protect my father’s hands from the hot corrosive black-and-clear liquid inside electrician’s splice packets; from the powder-blue edges of just-sawn three-inch Schedule 40 PVC pipe; from the slow and subtle and inevitable hardening of hands that work in dirt.

No matter how I open the drawer, I’m never fast enough. I still see them. Behind the artfully arranged failure of a dozen jumbled mementos, they wait in the bottom of the dresser, curled as always. Dusty green mildew wraps them in frosty fuzz and a sharp, tangy-bitter smell. They remain in the battered plastic biohazard bag where the homicide investigators carefully placed them.

The evidence from a death.

The detritus from a life.

My father’s final work gloves lie in the drawer corner, bent and shriveled as if immolated. Dark, stiff, foreboding, they put on an obscene mime show of his hands as they clamped the backhoe steering wheel—the backhoe steering wheel behind which he sat for hours missing the back half of his skull while the crime scene crew processed the evidence, surveyed the damage wrought far beyond the sprinkler heads and backfill going in at the 12th tee. Once light tan, the leather slowly turned dark with each successive layer of Lowcountry dirt, of peat and brackish bog, of cattail and swamp water, of sweat, of blood.


That’s the other smell—twenty-one years on, still spattered along the cuffs.

In memory of Newt Williams
5 October 1946 – 16 January 1997

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Hillside Monday: 1/15/18

“Crape Myrtle and Winter Sky”
LaGrange, Georgia – 3 January 2015

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Caturday: 1/13/18

“Snoozing in Traffic”
LaGrange, Georgia – 22 July 2015
Models: Clark (left) and Buddy

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Tonight, I dream of Nashville, where a low pressure system wraps the city in a thick wintry blanket. How beautiful it would be to see the oxbows of the Little Harpeth, the girders of the Shelby Street Bridge, and the ear-tufts of the Bat Building swept by wind—swaddled in snow, glazed in sleet and freezing rain.

Tonight, I long to wake to the great roaring silence of snow. Through the perforated Bakelite cube at my bedside, a half-human, half-computer voice consoles me with a NOAA lullaby. “Currently in Nashville: snow, 28 degrees. A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect. Elsewhere in Tennessee…”

Tonight, indeed, my mind is elsewhere—in Tennessee. I imagine the crisis-comfort of winter weather: the deafening hush of heavy, wet snowflakes, the flik-flik-flik of ice on plant and ground, the muffled grrrrddddtttt of tires against slush in the parking lot of a tiny apartment on White Bridge Road. Just beyond my window, the splash of cold black-white-clear lacquer soothes me to sleep, to work, to live.

Tonight, in west central Georgia, I stock up on bread, milk, and bottled water. I surrender my hopes. I play along at home.

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)


Friday Photo: 1/12/18

“Water Glass and Black Napkin”
Columbus, Georgia – 9 October 2015

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Every Place Is a Sacred Place

Oak, hickory, dogwood, mountain laurel, sassafras, tulip poplar, elm, sweet gum, locust—I wished I’d brought along my tree book. Frothy green ferns carpeted the ground, but not so thickly that I couldn’t see the dark, glossy poison ivy leaning into the trail. Leaves of three, stay away from me.

Hundreds of young saplings reach skyward for light. Sheltered by the mature trees, they will stay relatively small and grow slowly until those larger trees die and fall. As the saplings become larger trees, new saplings will sprout from the nuts, seeds, and cones nestled in the leaf litter. The new trees will mature, die, and fall back. More new saplings will take their places—and on, and on.

How long has this scene existed? It was here long before the trail; it will be here long after the trail. What did this hollow look like when the only people here were Native Americans? How about before the Native Americans? What plants were here then that aren’t here now—and vice versa?

Thousands of years before we were born, this hillside was home to plants, insects, animals, and people. Hunter and hunted lived and died close to one another. Over thousands of years, something or someone has breathed a final breath and lay down forever on every patch of ground we see here. Every spot is important, hallowed, sacred.

What if we were to bring this presence of mind, to everything we do, everything we say, everywhere we travel? How different would the world be? How different would we be?

Every place is sacred—even if we choose not to think about it.

Photo: “North Georgia Woods” (Blue Ridge, Georgia –19 May 2010)

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)

NOTE: This piece has been revised from its previous version, which I first posted here on  23 July 2012.

Wednesday Photo: 1/10/18

“Pink, Orange, Gold, Gray”
Carroll County, Georgia – 4 December 2014

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In the Turn Lane

For a week, the oily-matte black carcass lay undisturbed in the middle of the turn lane. On either side, three more lanes of car and critter hurried past the spiky scramble of feathers. Hard freeze, hard thaw, hard rain—nothing would touch it.

In rural west Georgia, where I grew up, dead animals in the road are a fact of life. With these dead animals comes nature’s clean-up crew. They make quick work of most everything: flattened and ruptured squirrels, opossums, armadillos. Dogs, cats, coyotes, cattle. Unfortunate copperheads, errant guinea hens, eerily headless eight-point bucks, and even the occasional feral hog.

Every creature eats. Every creature is eaten. In the circle of life, flesh never goes to waste.

But all that happens outside of town, in the country. Here, a hundred yards inside the city limits, was not where I expected to see broken, crumpled wings. Here, in the turn lane, was not where I expected to see frozen talons devastated against asphalt.

Like many of us, it sought the company of others, working best in groups. Like many of us, it flew into fate unaccompanied, at a time and in a place it neither expected nor desired.

Only death will eat a vulture.

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)


Hillside Monday: 1/8/18

“Back Yard, Tuesday, 1:15pm”
LaGrange, Georgia – 4 August 2015

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Caturday: 1/6/18

“Lucinda, Early Morning”
LaGrange, Georgia – November 2016

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