Five Poems – Ernest Williamson

Illustration by Vaishnavi Suesh
Illustration by Vaishnavi Suesh

Opining Opposites

halibut and biscuits,

cigarette smoke, coffee, and CNN,

33rd street, stench of concrete, air, and light.

chatter, banter, screams, and sniffles in concordance.

without all of this I am naked and afraid;

unless time replaces

thehalibut and biscuits;

cigarette smoke, coffee, and CNN;

chatter, banter, screams, and sniffles in concordance;

with sardines and lead;

alabaster, mold, piss and PBS;

dirt covered streets, stench of bible,

dark heavy long prayers;old songs; dances and tears.

with all of this,

I am closer than you think.


Pomp and Circumstance

tailored sheepskin stretched over marble mantel

held in glory dipped in underemployed

deposits of faith

dangling like broken ice caps

in Malta’s mist.

all too familiar fancy humdrum lending to classic routine.

students hold my worth




of golden mulch,

rendering utility without honor.

able and motivated to help those in need

but blood stains the classroom floor as soon as I speak.


masts of your shattered boats corrode the winds

centuries slice decades into cedar blocks,

all for the sake of caprice.

heroin laced dollar bills

laughing at my ceremonious salary.

a preceptor adorned with degrees

but held in rime,

stolid contained

like fruit flies in melting



jostling wheezing in cobalt skin

eyes wet tinted red

looking up

at the new brilliant glistening white

ivory tower

waving with concern

as blue flames tickle my worn broken flaccid feet.


The Broken Record

crosshatched botched layered alms;

pink with gray tops doused in lavender wine,

holsters plaid with turquoise leaves swaying like musk

in hypnotic sway.

I never saw my etchings.

they were never planned as my songs.

though my work has pinned me against this bark,

in fulsome dark welding plats,

my feet hold still in the muck of the rain;

while the alms in hand melt into skin

dying with recourse relayed to an etching

of yet another Dorian Gray.



A Lover of Divorced Memories

in the sullen valley of perdition’s atavistic ovum

we find nonsense catering to the wiles

of a lunar mind.

a growing glow masticating in the neon purple drag

of careful lakes; stolid cries,

of children too bright to be happy,

and mawkish men over the age of 85

thriving in imagination personified.

the lie of youth

as a hope interwoven with boldness,

it flies high only for a time

yet all I say is a mesh

of weary breath bleeding gray in winter’s rage.

so what of my words?

my thoughts in horizontal rows,

what of my sayings?

my devolving poetry,

if you loved another bard resting

in a gothic cemetery

circumfused with yellow mums

with savory ash and slick black lakes

touched with the feet of grey swans

with the love of remembrance;

say something I can feel;

lest you forget my life after life

within the bellowing beats of your own




Mendicant’s Cemetery

75 years of life;

all but a moment,

limp skin,

decaying teeth uneven, lateral yet everywhere;

in the open sea of observers

trying to defuse words.

repulsed facial expressions

contorted smiles and frowns

immersed with contour lines

map-like with no legend

yet understandable.

you see me

varicose veins

abstruse vocalizations

the scent of older old spice

white hairs meandering in darker ones.

sullen eyes beaten

by the apathetic disappointments of life.

a marriage of 50 years,

now a memory


yet there;

at Mendicant’s cemetery,

in fragile oak picture frames,

elusive smells

some pleasant

some alluring

like fried eggs smothered in aged black pepper

or foul smells like

memories of helpless arguments

about why I rarely said

“I love you”

and why you said “not tonight”

more than “whatever you want is fine with me”.

but now my sands have slid down into dirt,

and whatever you want

above my cracked yellow bones

is fine and dandy

intattered thought

in dreary deed

as I beg and plead

for the life of


Dr. Ernest Williamson has published creative work in numerous journals including The Oklahoma Review, Review Americana: A Creative Writing Journal, The Columbia Review, The GW Review, New England Review; and The Tulane Review.  Currently, he is an Assistant Professor of English at Allen University