Derek JG Williams




skewered by spear

to asshole

the hog turns
over flames

its fat twists
& drips

over the spit

when it lets go




that's how I did it
I turned

the hurt slow

for it to be well

so I could let go

be free

to eat
& be full





You return: black-spined

shock of Devil Cholla,
dagger end

of betrayal shot through

with venom. More mortar          
than pestle, I grind

down my crooked

teeth, choke on the grit,
cough up your admission

and spit it out.

I didn't know
I was your animal

until now.




In the desert garden
there's Ironwood,

Owl Eye, Sharkskin

Agave, a dull glow
to burnt stone-shine.

The cactus bit

by jackrabbit splits,
dies slow, rotting.




The heart hoards

its losses, remembering
stones chosen from

each sacred place—

hoping they'll become
jewels again.




I poke grief's cool, grey

coal, turn it over.
It keeps

its fire hidden. Doubt,

I want to be
rid of it—the eye

aches from seeing

too far,
too much.




The pomegranate seeds
are so sweet,

I want to burst.

They grow here too
with everything

that lives by this heat.




"...time's passage allows us to see change, but a poem's chronology forces us to see repetition: lyric time is not progressive but fragmentary and recursive." —Paisley Rekdal, from "Nightingale: A Gloss"