January 14th: Derek Williams Features

Photo by Mick Murray

Stone Soup Poetry meets from 8-10 p.m. every Monday at the Out of The Blue Art Gallery (located on 106 Prospect Street in Cambridge) with an open mike sign-up at 7:30 p.m. On January 14th, we continue to feature the local scene's open mikers by debuting Derek Williams.

Derek Williams grew up on the lean, white, streets, of Connecticut--plenty. In 2000 he slayed the suburban dragon, and moved to the Berkshire mountains to trade pelts with local liberals and learn about literature. He graduated in 2004 with a BA in English and an unbridled contempt for college students. A move to Boston only made sense. After an ill-fated tryst with teaching, he began writing again, and over the past year has performed at local venues in and around Boston. His poetry has been influenced and informed by A.R. Ammons, Hart Crane, and John Berryman. He is hard at work on his first novel, and his poetry manuscript is nearing completion. He is unemployed, and has won no accolades or prizes. Most days, he spends inordinate amounts of time wandering the streets of Allston.

A sample poem follows below.

An Emissary of Unknowns

The attorneys are hard at work,
The bones of their bodies hulk
Through tombs writ of law and suffering,
The ink of their speech still drying.

In the old neighborhoods landlords
Have taken to locking their rooftop doors:
With each year that passes fewer and fewer
Bodies are posited
On the long, tar, beaches, of New York City,
They linger like unsolved long division
Across an incomplete skyline,
More fodder for satellites,
The glint of the sun a diamond in their lens.

A plume of catapults have been commissioned,
The carrier pigeon is making a comeback,
Locks are meant to be broken,
Children play in streets and parking lots
In deference to playgrounds.

There is a handgun under every pillow
And a camera on every street corner:
A parabola of parasols stricken by the sidewalk
Speak of rain like it is a new language.

Rumor has it that Coney Island
Is closing after Labor Day,
That only the Cyclone will remain standing
When the dust from the cranes
Settles over the waterfront,
The ascent and fall of that rollercoaster
Assured by local politicians and zoning boards,
Literal testament to time that cannot stop moving,
That will not stop moving.

This is the last refuge, werewolf men
And sword swallowers ply their trade
On a desolate boardwalk;
Children gasp at their feats,
The puzzle of their countenance,
That shock is our own to contend with,
The worldly and shrill despair
Of seagulls sustaining out over the waves.

An ugly woman breathes fire
Into the hazy summer night,
Behind her waves break
Against rocks shaved sharp by our longing:
She has been trimmed of words,
Her body undulates in time
With each foaming white crest,
And the flame that issues forth from her tongue
Is the tiniest riot we’ve seen this year.

--Derek Williams