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Derek JG Williams


as though time accelerates

even as the days slow


another layer beneath this layer

of action






flecks of green paint

fall to the rough pine floor


Saskia on the balcony smoking

annotating something


her dark pen scours

sheets of paper


for something true


she wants me to scrape away

civility too






I might bray


bite at the air

that heaves

& harries me


I breathe




a verb

to stutter




who angers easily


first example

in the dictionary


which tells you plenty

about men






of substance—



in twenty years

I’ve thrown a chair

through an empty room


at nothing at no one

& found the breakage



who doesn’t want to see

an image

from the mind


let fly






the mother tells her son

to breathe

when he cries out


for now


she is the director

of his anger

which is loss or fear


he stops crying


& wraps his arms

around her waist






from the edges of the wall

I paint toward its center


the frame vanishes


there’s no time to rush

paint drying


each brushstroke


before I apply the next coat

over an inscription


our names & the date

temporary truths






the chimes turn

in the wind


never still

there’s never peace






after sweeping

the fallen paint chips


I replace

a burned out lightbulb






I light a cigarette & sit



the breeze in my ear


the chimes like a clock

tell the hour


folding it

into the next






my beloved cuts lemongrass

onions garlic & ginger


earlier she handed me

a single hair from her head


I draped it

across my shoulders


it was gone

by the time I remembered

the gesture






we change what we see

& are changed


when I flip the switch


the hall

where I work

is almost too bright






we eat a simple soup


& I pray

to our better gods


whatever voice

is there


subsists on bread

& water


insists on little more

Williams_Headshot - Derek JG Williams.jpeg



Derek JG Williams is an American poet and essayist. He is the author of Poetry Is a Disease, forthcoming from Greying Ghost Press. He holds a doctorate in English and Creative Writing from Ohio University, and an MFA from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. His poems and prose are published or forthcoming in Pleiades, DIAGRAM, Best New Poets, Plume Poetry 9, and on Boston's MBTA trains as a part of the city's Poetry on the T program. He lives in Germany with his wife and dog. Learn more about him at

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