About letsonwilliams

poet, mustache wearer

Three Poems by Letson Williams

chinese translation # 13

cut and visit the sea
i can do it
the truth is there
it is a talented teacher
but fringe

chinese translation #17

did happiness hit you
on your way to the gate
the large numbered door
which is small
to the floor

people are much
and it will be possible
to hit
to smile
for them
to let you

would you want to go

is in there to know

chinese translation #33

the powder is a good thing
it’s not written for long
and time is the character-builder
even if things get ugly
we all know that the ghost builds a wall
from north to south
from both sides of her mouth
but a man who is amiable sincere and unshakeable
isn’t necessarily
comprehensively faithful
or even able
to escape the unstable
smiling and nodding but
starting to waver
it is not noble
to cut
you cut

do it how you like
to get things done
to make the most of the sun
to have a desire to communicate
the companionship
share both the good
and the well-fed
the quick
and the instead
a desire
for death and
but not only in education
also in
and pro cras tination

look to the full moon
through georgia fog
through decatur night
if the timing is right
look for the water
watch it rise
to the
shuffle your slow feet
face the smile
that is looking at you
it’s all that you have to do
you never know who is looking
at you

prayers wait for answers

color is beautiful

the wish waits for a coin

at the bottom of the well
but it is still
too soon
to tell

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“you know it’s time for you to go” by Letson Williams

in thecompany of corpses
      three nights
   three times
   and then
it’s upto me
theydon’t say anything
theyaren’t listening
andturned in the night
i woke
with astart
   asked ‘is everything allright?’
   before i chance remembered
before igave to flight
   i tried
now   i no more read it
thanlived it
      that’s just the facts
the fusewas dipped
   it glowed a good long time
      in low light
thehigher the hang
themore dead   the ore
andthat leads directly
   back to the corpse
have nodoubt that the logic is sound
the suncomes up
just assurely as it goes down
now   ifyou’d come in the summertime
whenthere’s more accommodating ground
whenthe sight doesn’t much bother
    with the sound
and thehills hold fate
in themeaning of song
   they know how to sing
how tosing along
whereyou feign death
thepressure works
fromeither end
to yourmiddle
waitsfor words
understandswhat is heard
do notuse
   this time
      use the time
toreclaim the remains
is yourname
thatwater was cold enough
and thebottle filled right on up
but   i bow out
   held down
         it is no worry of mine
on ablack horse
   for hope
andthrough the kind of rain
thatonly wants to be
it weeps
  then it moans
you know it’s time
      for you to go

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“and then old fat god made it rain” by Letson Williams

and then
old fat god
made it rain

she was far too willing to accept ‘no’
      as the answer
the smart one
      the littlest one
never gave up a single
she loved language   the most
her temper was gone
      by the time the moon
turned blue
      which was about the time
she decided
      ‘it’s true’
and she never told anyone
                                          but you
((((breathe in   deep))))
she was the go-to girl
   for most of the world
freckles   and curls
   don’t know if ya heard
ya heard
the shadow in the sky
       blocking the sunrise
the one lacking rights
   is the one that’ll die
      if you fight
and clean up
      from last night
just do it   aight
she always said it best
            she said ‘heart-strong’
   she said ‘head-long’
she said
      ‘c’mon c’mon c’mon’
and moved up front
   with the people
up close
but what does anyone
   really know   about hope
except that maybe
maybe it’s best just to leave it alone
leave it
      at home
the empathic bleeding love
for every   one
   from a place
full up
      and overflown
moving those blues around until
they get in line with the high notes
   on tenor saxophones
into a light where they can be seen
      and known
and if that really is just the way it goes
      y’ know
sam cooke sang
‘don’t fight it   feel it’
i mean feel it
not just hearing
or wearing the
listen norman
      not everything has to hurt
you scrawl it quickly
in the commuter lot
your eyes   your smile
   they’re soft
but your words
   are not
they’re hard
quick like gun shots so
go on boy
give ‘em what you got
even if you think
it’s not
      quite done
it is something
that’s not used up
   and that

is hope enough
have another one
      order up a shot
and a beer
pretend the citywide
           made it all the way to
         right   here
like it
      learned how
to take the train
            and that is precisely when old fat god
   took the time
      to explain some things
when all we really wanted him to do
      was make it rain

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“there’s no such thing as simple songs” by Letson Williams

i’ve watched no country
seven nights in a row
not strictly an active watch
one and a half times with ponytail
once without breathing
but never forgetting
how you did the leaving

boyos have the heart scars
after every beating
to prove that
we can move it
that there’s blood on our shoes
to match the blood on your boots

you couldn’t just call it off
instead you decided
the best route was to not talk
before the light went soft
and you gave it up
with chamomile tea
an infidelity
on a monday
when he’d already called in to work
that’s when he convinced you

‘we might as well make use of the church’

on the run
on the coast
sailing winds
the arrogant boast
here’s a toast
to the ones you leave behind the most

the ones who brought you to the air
what future holdings do to fear

hot brown coffee has no care
just like you won’t hear
the cow screaming
and how it got there

makes you think ‘fuck the ones’
who need to stare
who need to understand things
or share

stay away from the kind of people
who like movies
or music
who get things done
so yeah
that’s pretty much everyone

except the little boy
lord fauntleroy
who took one last shot
with all his toys
headed east to wait
for daddy to die
for the money to come
dressed you up like it’s 1981

like declan patrick aloysious macmanus
laid down his gun
to spend his time
reciting schoolboy puns

ever clever down the rabbit hole
pouring concrete footings
around your flagpole
telling you all the truth
you choose to hold
who you are
why you’re here

was fifteen the other f word
or was that father
i used to burn certain suns to know that truth
but now i don’t even bother

might as well put a name on it


but everything
including ideals
can be labeled as wrong

there’s no such thing as simple songs

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“for the contrarian” by Letson Williams

making the whole process
more complicated than it has to be
no-body would disagree
it matters not
how good you are
what good you do

or does it

is the final measure
more than cronbach’s alpha
more than just seeing
if the same answer
can be had again
are any answers
is any



for goodness sake
for pete’s sake

my sake
for me

what about that
years speeding up
only to slow down
in libraries
and on dirt roads
in locker rooms
in your mother’s home
atop her piano
more for holding up
than stirring chords
or sweet songs

sing along

none of this
and none of you

the sunset
was not meant for you
nor was it meant for
everyone else
stone stuck
staring at it
without the words
to make a stand
only word enough
to meet demands
of consumer culture
that coffee colored vulture

with a shaker to the right
a stolen glockenspiel in the center
its silver bars glimmering in the middle

of it all
the glimmer
is something you hear
and if you hear it well
you can see it too
you can make it through the
through the roof


and if that’s not enough
to get you to stop calling me

then i don’t know what else
i can do for you

defend it
make a case
tell me why
you ended up in this place
and why you feel such a strong want
to heal the hate
to set it straight
from out of state

the harm’s long gone
don’t you know that son
don’t you forget what we told
you when we said that
we know what the color yellow
what the color yellow

what the worth of work depends upon
when we sat on the back bumpers of fords
always more than one
and just wanted to play golf
before we went back to work
before we came home
from the moon
or from utah
where god only knows what happened
and what that meant

the port in the storm
called itself arthur
but you always said
‘author’ like it was writing
our story
from the gulf coast
ankle deep in crude
strike broke

didn’t seem right to me
at the time
doesn’t seem any more right
despite my red subaru
and three green semesters
for the contrarian
the septuagenarian
who tricked me
every day of the week

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Three Poems by Letson Williams

there is no sitting still

an injury that did not result in death
not the type of death that you mean
the shifting landscape of a sad song
of someone listening
a phone call

nighttime wishing
you are either moving toward
or away from the change
standing still standing in sand
you are still moving
it is still moving
the earth is still moving

there is no sitting still
there’s no nine-nine
no west of fields
no more seven chinese brothers
pure tenor quality
the voice of harold montgomery

no more pretending
that the words mean anything
or are well chosen
well guarded
well meaning
nobody is winning
nobody is winning
there is nosuchthing

which does not mean
there is no right or wrong
you can sing the song
it’s not a question of can or can’t
it’s do or don’t
didn’t you know

i am an impatient man
prefer cake to pie
truth to light
inside to insight
with actual tigers
and intricate daydream designs
in the last of the graylight
last of the wine
summer flower dresses
that let in the light

a joy shared is twice a joy
a sorrow shared is half a sorrow
true today true tomorrow

mine’s day
minion’s day
until the day
in the mines eye of carmelita
the song of chicharita
rose of the desert
the deportees

addiction stands alone

in favor of the behavior
first alone
then afraid
seems so far away

how old was i
how bold was i
saving all that turn around love
for someone not welcome
who only loves
the needle high
full of saline
and salience
racing embracing reticence
karma and

more cocaine can temporarily
the situation
the conflagration
uncontrollable addiction
the choice disease
of sons
and daughters
mothers and fathers
hooked on heroin
low taxes and ice-water

tactics can deflect impact
create impasse
how to make glass
in little towns
leaves brown
shade controlled
by small amounts of

and big money players
who don’t believe a word
they say
just throw that shit out there
to get in your way
to move some cash
over and back
til they got it all
and a heart attack

this fall
we have to find out
if you know
if it shows
which way the wind blows the staylows

catastrophic circumstances
not little ones
this drinkin’s killing me
i need the help
but i still drink from the top shelf

funny thing is
i ended up being addicted
to propane
and recidivism
three months at the minimum

addiction stands alone
ignoring the stigma
the leprosy and
libby zion

pretty girls play the clarinet

she was someone that i used to know
a smile so familiar
seen a hundred times
the nervous laugh was gone though

she was old enough to
look like another someone that i knew
the flutist
from alden
with freckles
with child

it took a minute to click we stared
not a lovers stare
not a strangers stare
there was something in there
something in between
but lean
and it was difficult to say who got there first
i think it was me

she thinks it was her

she may be the exception
to the townes rule
that yellow headed women
bring nothing but pain
if i have to explain
if you think that thin air
brings fame
you might have not been listening

she never caused me any pain
all she ever did
was be the refrain
and i did things
to see the smile
time and again
it was a crush
i’m sure
deft and demure
she liked to show me to her sister
who never understood
but once got the laugh meant for smiley
meant for good
and that day cemented
what could never be heard
because the light eyes
and the real smiles
didn’t need the words

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Two Poems by Letson Williams

i haven’t got the courage yet


one by one you said
i think i know what you meant

i’m trying not to unravel and wishoping that if i do it would at least be for atypical reasons but that’s only because i wishope that i am atypical

sometimes i am

i’m not

cold fights hot the day the driveway gets paved black and i sneak into the apartment like it’s some kind of attack leaving the peppers in the car in a sack
by the railroad tracks

the community that is growing is not what i wanted to plant nor is it what i want to harvest so i will leave it for other gardeners

and wonder how productive it is to take that hard look at the ones you’ve collected start to draw comparisons to make generalizations
no matter how accurate
about them and yourself

and i wonder why she felt the need to tell us she left it all on the shelf
it didn’t help

you started to use the word love

a few months back
it took me by surprise
felt unattached
but genuine
and heartfelt
i keep it in my pocket
in case i need the help
i haven’t yet

the transitions have us on moving trains
yours northeast
mine in a circle around the easternmost point of the midwest

a half circle or
a fingernail moon
from the east towns
to the deep blue
that’s not quite dark enough
to make me sweat
but is fast becoming
the part of myself
that is the first thing others notice
upon introductions

i heard jack mack say the words
‘buffalo friends’
the first time recoiled
but now understand
and wonder what it takes
to simply give in and
find both feet planted
in something you can defend
i haven’t got the courage yet

i can’t do anything with a box

requests are requirements
before retirement

they’re ready for you now
here it comes
second floor
what’s in the box

i can’t do anything with a box

what if i came to your house
to see what’s going on at home
in the background

he didn’t say daddy loves you
did he?

it’ll take a while
that’s for sure
i need to get all
the way to 118th street by the night before
tuesday could do something
if i just got enough sleep

never said anything of
the sort
dreams don’t talk
not in hotels
and if you’re flying
you’re dying
somebody told me that

i am not
the one

i’ll wait in blue chairs
near curly hair
sugar bear
nobody’s gonna care
they just stare

the door makes noises
so i know when you come in

everybody’s good at something
i’m good at doing what i’m told
and not looking old

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Two Poems by Letson Williams

thoughts made entirely of anxiety and propriety

your pale shoulder calls

through soft blonde hair

and being over prepared to go


your ‘bombed’ is all that i really need
to keep my journey going
to keep the wheels from slowing
so the terrorist doesn’t win

it must be in the soft blonde hair
the thoughts made entirely
of anxiety
and propriety

thoughts of
what did he mean
thoughts more often grey than green
thoughts of inertia
thoughts of the east
thoughts of what kind of help you can be

2:48 a.m. hiroshima bound

the drone doesn’t know

same as it ever was
truth is it never was

jumped jim crow just to have it known
that you wouldn’t let it go

it’s best for both of us

you know why
don’t look at my eyes
you might have to decide
that brown isn’t as blue as black is white
that couldshe wouldshe shouldshe might

this room felt a lot of tears
in those pre dawn years
where phone calls and whiskey
would have you believe that
four green lights make a green sea

that who you were talking to
was listening

man we don’t understand anything

no let me think for a minute


that’s just p l a i n bullshit

it’s not anything
that we want to understand
it’s everything

evv err eee thing

are you listening

has the port
in the storm
only the kissing
the missing the wishing
listing insisting

that surreptitious be swallowed
not watched or written

2:48 a.m.
hiroshima bound

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“omerta” by Letson Williams

and soon it was known she deserved the same thing she got
i thought i could show some support but found i could not
the light i thought she’d misread filled my own brittle head
with the grace of one joseph spence
lacking so much more than sense
the tension high

for more information suspending due process of guilt
no reaction felt amongst us we were both too well built
i made mention of fact she with her clothing intact
i didn’t think she could see until she said the faith was in me
if i promised to die

took so long to forgive even the simplest of things
swore she didn’t like jewelry but still she wore rings
i was seven feet tall she didn’t notice at all
i made too much to think
but she just had too much to drink
too much to drink and beautiful eyes

time can change so much to find no change at all
habits were too hard to break and it seemed like a wall
where nothing had been you know we used to be friends
i couldn’t move so to speak her lies were so fucking weak
there was no surprise

theft wasn’t spoken but i knew that it was everywhere
i liked the people she’d chosen even when they were there
i felt so much like me a good place to be
she smiled and made me relax
so i made her part of my past
like nick drake’s northern sky

infinity repeated itself for the finest of them
she was so very precious before she had men
her decision was sure my heart was still pure
listen now so to fail
it still seemed like a jail
and it just made her cry

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