R.S. Williams

All I want is to get the words right.

Tag: Poetry

New poem up at Anti-Heroin Chic

Here’s some good news to close out 2017! The online journal Anti-Heroin Chic has published my poem For Brian, Somewhere in Upstate South Carolina.

If you’re new to AHC, I think you’ll like what you find there. I sure do. From their “About” page:

Anti-Heroin Chic is a collective journal of poetry, photography, art work, stories, essays, interviews and more. We currently publish on a somewhat rolling basis, featuring anywhere between a dozen to twenty new writers, photographers & artists every month, whose work can be found on our contributor blog page.

‘Anti-Heroin Chic’ meaning that what is beautiful is what is broken, that our imperfections, our exiles, our exclusions, are what define our humanity most, not the polished surface or the Instagram culture which encourages us to dissociate from who and how we truly are. There is a seat for everyone here at this table. The idea of the commune very much animates this project. This journal strives for inclusion and a diversity of voices, not to disparage others but to lift them up.

Many thanks to AHC editor-in-chief James Diaz for publishing my poem. Thanks also to fellow writers Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Jon Bennett, and Kim Bailey Spradlin, whose wonderful work I’ve gotten to know via Anti-Heroin Chic.

Photo: “Self-Portrait in Black and Blue” (LaGrange, Georgia – 4 August 2015)

© R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)


Two new pieces in Sleipnir!

I’m delighted to announce that I’ve got two new pieces, “In the Studio” (poem) and “Clearcut” (flash nonfiction), in the Spring 2017 issue of Sleipnir literary journal. Named for Norse god Odin’s fearsome eight-legged horse, Sleipnir strives to

…create a space for other crooked-smile clowns wandering away from the path of courtiers and kings, [and who are] burning the midnight oil to tell a story.

Yep. My kind of publication.

Editors Robin Andreasen and Liana Vrajitoru Andreasen teach English at South Texas College in McAllen, TX. They’re a dream to work with. Liana and Robin tell me that the next issue will feature fiction, poetry, and art about Texas. By all means, send them your Lone Star State-themed work!

Cover illustration by Leszek Kostuj and quoted text appear courtesy of Sleipnir
Other text © R.S. Williams (all rights reserved)


Song 19

The silence between icy wind and cedar branch,
and moonlight on sad ragged azaleas,
and the lone water oak missing its twin,
and the chickens’ worried dream-clucking,
and the audacity of blackberry winter when the earth is newly green,
and my grandmother’s gaudy orange cannas by the old water tank,
and her menthol-smoking ghost walking past them with a frown,
and whether she ever forgave herself,
and whether I can ever forgive myself.

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)


Haiku for My Father, Buried 19 Years Ago Today

I asked my father
for a sign, in a dream. He
said: “That boy ain’t shit.”

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)



At water’s edge, my Fisher King, you stand
flightless, crippled. Slender faithful guard
of fen, of heart, of glorious
sooty blushing riotous raiment—
crumpled, bruised, proud.

Your birthright: motionless swift grace.
Your feathers: hopeless sacred spikes.
Your offering: flawless imperfect blessing.

Demolished and whole,
fractured and healed,
shattered and safe—O great God,
that every hurt could mend,
that you could fly.

Fly from me, beautiful broken one.
Take my breath with you.

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

At the Magnolia Cafe

Late February.
Evening light.

Under a magnolia by the college,
a juvenile red-tailed hawk enjoys
an early supper—perhaps a
rabbit, or a large squirrel.


Such confidence:
not at all ashamed to eat
in front of us, to take its time
devouring every delicious bit
of small, furry creature.

Six feet away: a black vulture.
Greasy, patient, silent showdown.


Such confidence:
not at all ashamed to wait
to eat in front of us, to wait
to take its time devouring
every delicious bit of
small, mangled leftover creature.

No squawk. No challenge.
Now and again, its casual eye
caresses tree, soil, raptor.
No hurry. No hassle.

Easily twice the hawk’s size,
it waits in the fading pink-violet-gold:
solid, abiding, eternal.
Closer than any of us
care to think about.

Here to offer
glad, gracious, fierce thanks
for this meal most
would scorn.

© R. S. Williams (all rights reserved)

© 2018 R.S. Williams

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