Patrick Williamson

Patrick Williamson lives near Paris. Recent poems in And Other Poems, Blue Nib Press, Paris LitUp, and Mediterranean Poetry. Latest collection is Traversi (English-Italian, Samuele Editore), and, previously, note Gifted (Corrupt Press), and Locked in, or out? (The Red Ceilings Press). He is the editor and translator of The Parley Tree, An Anthology of Poets from French-speaking Africa and the Arab World (Arc Publications). Founding member of transnational literary agency Linguafranca.

The itinerary

 

They promised salvation after death to those

who completed all these steps and trials,

to be admitted, it was severely forbidden to speak

so the little we know, as outsiders, depends

on fragments, buried after closure, invisible images

certainly not meant for us who attempt

to decipher their meaning, the question remains then,

what did they mean, a reminder of the joy of life,

hope, maybe just a life that is very brief and troubled

that, busied in doing nothing, the poor wretches

perceived too late, because they sometimes invoked death

as proof that they were living a long time, being

an example of our own weakness while we risk

rendering the everyday merely the work of talented painters

 

why can we not manage to

handle these findings properly.

 

 

Migrants beaching

 

The first sea any of us had seen

winched from water to land

to shed, the grey clouds are danger

the bell tower is on fire,

 

the black beach is hot, the bridges

collapse oh god oh god oh god

don’t leave me hanging on, my brain

is built of brick that erodes to sand

 

and you’ve no reason to think

this is any proof we are living long

all the intervening while is irksome

we await the appointed hour

 

the time which we enjoy is short

and swift, it is not made shorter

by our own fault; we flee from

one thought to none, from distant

 

past to a present we forget

confused and hateful, we lose

the day in expectation of night,

and night in fear of the dawn.