Marilyn‘n Johnny  [sic]

no money no political modesty
the ceiling dripping with glowing chillies flag
flowers hindi operatic pologies
asias sweatheart folds unfolds her napkin sloth
tuned to u.s. of comas describing one
last night of first knights honour her celibate
stockade dragged through the room to the door to the
hall to the stair to the hall to the door to
the walk to the walk to the river of skulls
collaboration – the chillies burst crimson
with day as the car intercourses new year

where did she sleep with the bullfighters cock sure
no modesty no hotel reservations
she watches his hands hold his head what do they
rub with such steady motion thoughts with hell from
her faithful atheist for whom treacherous
calumnations peopled by her disciples
lie with their legs open as if they had no
holes barred from resignation she watches him
her fingers shape a figure in the air as
silent as his the bed she rests on smells of
other bodies static on the t.v. snows

the boxer drinks a glove of his own blood and
thrown fight tears our mobster ticket holders have
no reservations no public sanity
and knew he could not leave the ring on foot he
bore noble impositions to revile
with a satisfactory cunt she led her
harem to promulgate they forgot with their
embareassments and swallowed boredom whole
requesting deprivation so the boxer
tuned the speakers frequency to embalm our
audience for thirst quenching and cleanliness

exwhorebitant prices in the restaurant
wrest her from her attitude of success an
unexpressable panic grips her dry throat
no sanity no miniscule proportions
could ease her hunger or terror billy on
the radio taunts dejavu for secure
the prisons are full of this brilliance and high
art a good room in winter as well when the
mind whips the begging words from empty mouths with
laughing knives she deliberates and runs ten
white waitresses “thank you” kindly for leaving

if only she could hold her hand so straight so
sure pure this inundation of belief if
only she could conquer him so completely
genitalia and all that foreign soil
no proportions no reserved erotica
watch while the film makers play their elusions
she wants them as much as his poverty their
eyes the questions are unanswerable when
skinning genetic faces do not ask the
reason why for it is the duty of the
inconceived to fight their fathers desires

she loved you you were in search of the lighted
lamps derivation altaring the landscape
of bridges in a time sleep of cracked bell tolls
dying each day like the columnists dream on
the twenty foot scrim what was his lust after
no erotica no body lexicon
to inscribe her hour loneliness with some meaning
she never fucked him like a dog because she
was not a dog or thought is the glorious
cancer she ran her hand over and over
with the phrases of a crippled mans succour

come as you must in battalions of stained glass
balloons set the choirs of dark tongued icons
aflame with weightlessness sleep with words painful
in your nonplussed skin call your burnt martyrs now
they desire this as their actual life
yes she has no reason for her preferences
no lexicon no meaningful cowardice
exfumiation fire fighters bare their
bones to the comedy devil that is why
she wants to inhale the powder of their ashes
for the meaningfulness of that calling thing

her elbow caught the angel in a bronze fall
icarus holding his breath on the edge of
and not for nirvana or heaven or eve
hate parsimonious kisses the shadow
the snow gives back is blue it is all it has
offered after the effort of being cold
she sucks the strength from his posture whispering
no cowardice no addictive medicines
who could say if he ever emerged from the
forty foot fall into unknowing waters
sea, which absorbs itself while else is destined

black coffee boiling in the empty pot is
her hallucination for mornings of spy
inundation betty took her face off for
recognition ought to be introduction
considering the disguise was the adverts
intention how awful it was to be left
by the dealer even though he wished to sell
her paintings and reveal her nude awake on
no medicines no sympathetic belief
how much could she abandon to fiction and
revel in the green glow of paranoia

not responsible for the light emitting
from radio dials faces but of the
sound of the words waves or the sine waves themselves
cruel in the name of protection nobly build
half of castles circles planning the funds will
supply until beautys only excuse is
remains bowing to cars pussing by on the
wrong side of the street who is prescient of the
darkness who is wandering in the heart of
no belief no tolerant morality
as priests lineless hands cross ash on her forehead

she nailed them in one by one the boxer with
his cardinal lips glistening on the crown
on the left the fire mans urn dangling
like an uncorked bell on the right where he
belongs the mobster hanged from his hard cock, and
with his head deep underground to keep a wide
white eye on lifes works progress plots the priest as
base trace her thinning footsteps from their gravestone
to the last remaining door watch her wash the
ash and blood and come and ink away for him
no morality no company money




The 'Prayer of the Virgin in Bartos' claimed that Christ was crucified with five nails, which were named Sator, Arepo, Tenet, Opera and Rotas. — James De Quincey Donehoo


Is this life? Life is this.
This is my only life.
Is this only life?
Life is not this.
This life.

What I see at the periphery.
An experience in which my hand is not my hand
(or Christ’s hand, whose nail is called
Sator) or the rubber hand, (whose nail is called
Arepo, or the sower). There is magic in the nail’s
names: Sator, Arepo, Tenet, Opera, Rotas –
to extinguish fire without water say
‘Sator, Arepo, Tenet, Opera, Rotas’
or ‘Rotas, Opera, Tenet, Arepo, Sator’
or something is breaking me in half.
This life in not my
experience of the hand which is rubber
or Christ’s hand nailed by Tenet, cross-wise,
as it pierces sun-burnt skin my own hand
bursts into blossom – as I imagined
over and over, you entering me would
burst me into blossom – opera-ish
waves of thunderous compassion buoying
flames which cannot be extinguished
by water only these words, names of the nails
piercing the sunburnt skin of Christ/the rubber hand –
my experience – Arepo, Tenet, Opera –
Sator – Rotas – my hand on the wheel or my hand
on the hip of the beast whose low horns
point the direction in which we plough, sow,
plant – as I imagined so many times
your entrance into me which was foretold by the coming
of thunderous waves of compassion from between
these aching hips, opera-ish in their burning which
no water can extinguish but only air excited
by waves of sound lapping from this point in time
and space at which the hand, Christ’s sunburnt/rubber hand,
is pierced by Sator, Arepo, Tenet, Opera, Rotas –
and I feel you/it/him gentle entering as the bee does
blossom or the seed does
fertile, ash-laden soil,
with care for the fatigued origin – unknown –
comprehended/preserved, with tender care – the opus –
wheeled, unknown, through time and space
from one ash-covered slope and valley
to this which is not life, but a spell written
in certain ink (blood of Christ) or (blood of Herculaneum’s)
sower of all this is, is this: love or fire
which cannot be extinguished
or begun, except by words.






from the oak tree
certain leaves are removed

                  which lets the rain / light in

a building 6000 years ago
could call it a building
washed every winter
in oil blood gold blood gold

                  which lets the light in

bent four fingers back
count them
five six seven eight
thousand years

                  which let the rain / light in

taking out the mastic
makes a dense perfume (cedar-like tears)
crushed clove (aka cleave)
certain letters are removed

                  which let the rain / light in

below the water
white skin

iridescent as fish skin
seen through a glass vase’s
pupil-like curve

hewn he saw
no thing
fishes’ curved eye
sawn saw no thing

o thing
o crystal thing
give me back
my years

                  tho now i have what lets the light in





[JL Williams's books include Condition of Fire (Shearsman, 2011), Locust and Marlin (Shearsman, 2014), Our Real Red Selves (Vagabond Poets, 2015), House of the Tragic Poet (If A Leaf Falls Press, 2016) and After Economy (Shearsman Books, 2017). She is interested in expanding dialogues through writing across languages, perspectives and cultures and in multimodal and cross-form work, visual art, dance, opera and theatre.

Published widely in journals, her poetry has been translated into numerous languages. She has read at international literature festivals and venues in the UK, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Turkey, Cyprus, Canada, Hungary, Romania, Montenegro and the US. She wrote the libretto for a new opera, Snow, was Writer-in-Residence for the British Art Show 8 in Edinburgh, and plays in the poetry and music band Hail of Bright Stones. Williams curates writing events and creates workshops and professional development activities for poets.]

Copyright © 2018 by J.L. Williams, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.