Three Dark Poems by Stephen Jarrell Williams: “Out of This World”, “Longing” and “Bitter”

Out of this World
She threatens to bite
if they get too close

her body sun-painted

her backpack and robe
on the curve of the shore

she covers her ears
crowd closing in

their voices
wanting more than a touch

for she's far from old
preparing to leave this hell

wet sand
up to her ankles

wave wash
up to her knees

holding her arms out
bearing her cross

the crowd halts
eyes wide unable to blink

she stands firm
in the sand and salt of the sea

ocean settling
into an immense pool of silence

seagulls circling
singing songs with actual words

thousands of fish rising
spinning in a dance

a distant whale surfacing
huge with angry eyes

crowd running
back into the sins of the city

now understanding
she's one of the chosen ones

soon to be raptured
out of this world.

He touched you
unable to sleep
until he filled you
with his poetry

and you took
his words
as someone else's
not believing
every syllable
was only for you

Years later
when you left

you had the one
most women long for

and now you regret
him again

poem after poem
a thousand pages
just for you

little by little
on every word.
Everything at her fingertips
And everyone
But no one completely

All these years
Looks and body
Eye-catcher near perfect

Until age bent her bitter
Teeth sharpening into a horror
Cavities decaying

Mine effigies
Oozing from her brain pores
Snake ghosts

Bread of dry crumbling cells
Burnt toast

Wrapped in a hardening cocoon
Captivity hung

Nightmare on a hangman's noose
Sobbing until cutting loose

The fall
A last grasp
Changing slap

Picking herself up
Stumbling to the pond in the garden
Moon-mirror waters

Cupping her hands to drink

Ripples of time she tastes
Finally understanding herself

Acceptance of mercy
Bitterness into freedom

Beautiful wilting of a flower.

“Bitter” was first published in “Black Poppy Review”, May 2018.

Stephen Jarrell Williams loves to stay up all night and write with lightning bolts until they fizzle down behind the dark horizon.  He was editor of Dead Snakes, UFO Gigolo, and Calvary Cross.  He can be found on Twitter as papapoet.

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