Two Poems

by Michael Williams (December 2020)


Two People Under a Light, Geng Jianyi, 1985



Single Life Blues


Formless lover, realize!—

Satisfy my pining eyes

And be that concrete ecstasy

For arms now clutching vacancy.

All the transport and elation

I harvest in imagination

(Call it fancy, call it lust)

Is a diet but of dust.

I need substantial meals to feed

My hungry soul, my heart-sick need.

Take shape, my love, that you may be

Exiled from my fantasy,

Springing foreigner into

This kingdom of the real and true,

And my devotion naturalize

As citizen, my dream and prize.

You in the flesh, my longing quelled,

We shall in youthful raptures meld.


A warm and damp reality,

Struggling sensuality;

A private Eden we’d create,

Our twain appetites to sate.

Relaxed, perpetual embrace,

Eyes tethered to adoring face

(Wherefore into the soul to peer),

Whispers caress the tender ear

And breath upon the tingling neck,

As intrepid fingers trek

About the peaks and valleys of

The body of the one I love.

The chattering of wind-blown leaves

Filter, as they slip the eaves,

Through windows, beacons of the night:

Pearly lunar, stellar light.

And by this muted brilliance blessed

We’d drift into contented rest;

Our heartbeats synchronized in sleep

While angels silent vigils keep.


But for my pining, I can’t find

You manifesting from my mind;

For all my aching passions roused,

My hermit-bed remains half-housed.

Half a soul inhabits me—

A gentle type of misery.



for Lucy Fudge


Pain has an empire over me

  And spans my many members;

And as I live, there’s fuel to feed

  The conquest’s burning embers.


Expansive is the agony

  Whose reign is ‘round me girt,

With multitudes of tribes— diverse

  Imperium of hurt.


Tyrannical of my existence,

  Enslaving concentration;

My very personality

  Is but its vassal nation:


The deluge of experience

  And life’s capacity

Is dammed into a tiny stream

  Of sore mundanity.


I have naught else; this misery

  Informs my every breath.

A pregnancy perpetual,

  Delivered but by death.


And yet, more galling than my plight

  Are hearts of stone and ears

Of steel, when indeliberate swells

  A looming tide of tears.


The slam of pity’s door to mute

  My song of suffering—

No likewise melody could vent

  The pungence of this sting;


The litany of judgment aired

  In stupid, cruel emissions

As if the callous fools I love

  Were suddenly physicians;


Their strange, indifferent flippancy

  Gives me no space for peace,

Nor do their torrent of demands

  And expectations cease;


I writhe in agony in bed,

  Into a ball I’m curled—

But am expected, Atlas-like,

  That I should bear their world.


Clinicians, practicing their art

  In treatment of my ill,

Regard me as a lump of ore

  That passes through a mill.


As bloodless as a statue’s bronze;

  Routine as a file clerk;

Cold as a glacier to my woe:

  The doctor at her work.


Cycling sickness to a salve

  (The latter fails again);

My symptoms chase their remedy

  And I remain in pain.


Self-piteous? Indeed, I am—

  But judge me not too strict:

Were this distress and succor’s dearth

  Your own self to afflict


You’d understand adversity

  And even might be crushed

Beneath that understanding’s weight,

  And judgment would be hushed.


My only recourse is to faith

  So, when of tears I tire,

I place my trust in God and pray

  A rosary of fire.



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Michael Williams is a Catholic convert, a crude man of letters, a bleeding heart and a goofball. He—like St. Francis—is wedded to poverty, but with moderate success. His interests (apart from writing) include smoking cigarettes, drinking beer and whiskey, reading history books, playing chess, and entertaining his friends. He lives in Anchorage, Alaska with his faithful kitty, Olivia. He has been published in the St. Austin Review and the Catholic Anchor.

Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast



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