M L Williams – Antiode

Williams LE P&W 4 Nov-Dec 2023

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14th Anniversary Edition, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Four Nov-Dec 2023.

Antiode, poems by M. L. Williams.


no moon
brightens a bare
knee half under
a plank picnic
table bleaching
to splinters beside
the dry creekbed

no wind rustles cattails
into husked whisper no
witness adores
the nightingale its
fled music
it puffs
against cold
in the bramble

Hendry’s Beach

The lot’s full and people wait for tables
at the restaurant or walk dogs
on the beach or set up volleyball nets
or surf their phones or boards or tidepool
or cross the creek fanning into the foamy
toxic tide to walk or sunbathe or jog
or stop and look up at the houses of people
who can afford houses perched on cliffs
over the blue Pacific, but not us, we have to
drive and park in the lot and enjoy
Arroyo Burro Beach Park (its real name)
and we’re like everybody else here
on a quiet Tuesday sunscreened
and happy except for the crying toddler
with sand in his wet diaper bumped
by the hyper setter or the sullen waiter
after a day of bad tips or a sad divorcee
looking for answers in the scintillant waves,

but most of us feel lucky to be here
with our lovers or children or solitude,
and if you’re luckiest, you’ll notice
the flock of pigeons that erupts
afternoons out of the cliff in tight
circles of pure aerodynamic purpose
and if you look harder you’ll see
the one oversized and oddly green,
not grey, pigeon, green because a conure
has decided to be a pigeon and it is
welcome among the flock and, sure,
nothing’s cheesier than the animal kingdom
teaching us hope and acceptance,
but that conure looks damned happy
to fly in tight aerodynamic circles
and the pigeons don’t seem to mind
its occasional “pretty boy” or “wanna party?”
or “knock knock who’s there?”

Panther Wind

All rain down
can rain
the gully’s brown
gush and gravel-
gutted road a
river’s shore rising
and mudslid
and you still
my love still in
my arms still in
my rained
mind’s bed
and safe

© M. L. Williams

M. L. Williams is the author of Game (What Books Press 2021) the chapbook Other Medicines and co-editor of How Much Earth: The Fresno Poets, and he served as editor or co-editor of Quarterly West for five years. His work appears in many journals and anthologies, including Plume, Hubbub, Salt, Western Humanities Review, Miramar, The Journal of Florida Studies, The Cortland Review, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, and Stone, River, Sky, and has been nominated for multiple Pushcart Prizes. He co-emcees the Poetry Stage at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, and he teaches creative writing and contemporary literature at Valdosta State University.

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