Poetry: Selections from William Taylor Jr.

All the True Poems of the World

The dark struts around like it owns the joint
and all the places we used to hide
are shuttered up or filled with
the useless faces of the average man
I don't know where the lost
and the broken congregate these days
so I skim along the busted earth
a ghost among ghosts
in these days without stories
these nights without dreams
all the true poems of the world
have been disappeared
I heard the jackboots on the doors
and then the terrible silence
we find a few are now and then
haphazard in shallow graves
but most you never hear from
I imagine they're out there
fragile shades frightened
as they drift
listless in the void
waiting for someone
to call them home.

It's April Again and I Don't Know

It's April again and I don't know
about it being crueler than any
other month but the terror of things
is certainly in full swing
and despite it being the 21st century
and despite the supposed advances of science
and civilization and the rest of it
on any given day
you'll still see bloated bodies
tossed into shallow graves like
the garbage they are, as rusted
tanks trundle through whatever's
left of somebody's
hometown just like
it were 1943
or 1912 or 1972
and I'm not trying to get
political here, I'm just thinking
out loud, writing down the obvious
in my ragged little book like
I always have, because
it still seems to help a bit
when nothing else does
on a Tuesday afternoon in April
when I'm tried of work
and life and love
and death and everything
else they're selling
on those big screen  
televisions above
the bar.

Me & the Ghosts

There was nowhere I had to be.
It was late afternoon, I was on Market Street
in the midst of the financial district.
I was walking to the Ferry Building
for no reason other than it was a place to go.
It had bathrooms and people to look at.
It had little stores in which to buy food
and drink. People were getting off work,
rushing for buses, going in pairs and groups
to restaurants and bars. All of the girls
looked pretty, even the ones who weren't.
All the old men seemed kindly enough.
On the concrete plaza the skateboard kids
were doing their thing, sliding down railings
and weaving through throngs of people
with the grace of birds.
The people of the street stood in groups
exchanging drugs and money with a studied nonchalance.
I entered the Ferry Building and used the restroom.
I bought a cup of coffee at a kiosk
went out to where the ferries were
and saw the people lined up to board.
I looked at the people drinking wine
and eating seafood on the restaurant patios,
talking about things they seemed pretty
sure about, businessmen slapping
each others' backs and laughing like horses.
I looked at the ocean and a few ships
that were headed somewhere.
I looked at the bay bridge, filled with cars
and trucks and buses going in one direction
or the other. I eventually got bored
and started back along Market Street
with no destination in mind.
Everything around me, the people
and the buildings, the sky and the earth
all seemed possessed of some sense
of purpose and permanence
I've never been able to manage.
I didn't mind so much, I was used to it.
Me and the ghosts, we just drift.

A Thing I Have Learned

The world won't stand to let you
sit somewhere quiet and alone
with a glass of wine
watching all the pretty things
from a distance as they fade
for any length of time before
it has to go and pull some shit.

William Taylor Jr. lives and writes in San Francisco. He is the author of numerous books of poetry, and a volume of fiction. His work has been published widely in journals across the globe, including Rattle, The New York Quarterly, andThe Chiron Review. He was a recipient of the 2013 Kathy Acker Award, and edited Cocky Moon: Selected Poems of Jack Micheline (Zeitgeist Press, 2014). Pretty Things to Say (Six Ft. Swells Press, 2020) is his latest collection of poetry. A new collection is also forthcoming from Roadside Press.


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