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ONLINE BOOKSTORE FEATURED TITLES

 

Best of Irish Poetry 2009
Best of Irish Poetry 2010

Editor: Matthew Sweeney

 

 

Songs of Earth and Light

Songs of Earth and Light
Barbara Korun poems translated by Theo Dorgan

 

 

Done Dating DJs
Done Dating DJs
by Jennifer Minniti-Shippey
Winner, 2008 Fool for Poetry Competition

 

 

Richesses

Richesses: Francophone Songwriter Poets
Edited and translated by Aidan Hayes

 

 

 

 

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JOHN HARTLEY WILLIAMS

 

 

John Hartley Williams

The last collection of poems John Hartley Williams published in his lifetime was The Golden Age of Smoking which came out from Shoestring Press in April 2014. Less than a month later he was dead. A posthumous book of stories and poems, Boys On A Roof  – again from Shoestring – will be launched at a memorial event in the London Review Bookshop in July 2015.

 

 

______

 

 

His Dog Was a Clown

Look Slippy!

 

______

 

 

             His Dog Was a Clown

 

The man squats beside the stream

and remembers his old dog.

Brown pebbles gleam in the current.

 

On the opposite bank is the wide O

of a rusty pipe that trickles water:

Across the stream is a wooden bridge.

 

A couple stands beside its rail

chattering low-voiced riddles

that tickle his one good ear.

 

His dog was a bit of this and that.

They called it a mongrel.

He called it a joker, a real humorist—

 

a dog that gave the name to wag.

It would bring you a boot and stand

there looking. You had to laugh.

 

He shifts his haunches and gazes round.

The Gods are clustered not far off

on stools around a smoky fire.

 

They're pouring peat-brown tea in white tin cups

and baring brownish teeth at him

in what he hopes are smiles.

 

He nods back and stares up the pipe.

And then he hears the crunch of feet.

It's one of the Gods for a match.

 

Sorry, but he has nothing now

except a far-off jubilant barking

in his head. The God departs.

 

The smoky fire bursts into a conflagration.

The Gods swell. Their beards and cloaks

throw wild shadows through the sullen dell.

 

The lovers fall into a silence. They're

looking for an answer that has no words.

He hurls a piece of wood across the stream

 

into the mouth of the pipe to watch

his dog pretend to chase it

into the tunnelling dark.

 

 

 

______

 

 

             Look Slippy!

 

 

Collect the ice off the floor, sonny.

Bring the pig to the Three Arches.

Do you realise what time it is?

Wipe that smile off your face.

 

And while you're about it

raise that sunken submarine.

Time's not a mushroom you know!

Can't bear people lounging about.

 

Explain me one thing, can you?

What makes people go down holes?

Don't they know they'll get stuck there?

It's your job now, precious. Get them out!

 

Wednesday already! Why are you still here?

What are you? A free standing clown?

Be good if a bear held the end

of that stupid scarf you're wearing.

 

Walk up Sumatra Hill and go

down Finkler's Alley to the turning.

Look for number twenty Whispering Lane.

The houses all have scrapy doors.

 

The bells don't work. Have you no

imagination? Let a ragged hand draw you in.

She'll tell you what to do. Kneel down

and tug that sticky bottom drawer.

 

Remove three dried fingers, a bun penny

and a picture of a child screaming.

Under a sheet of very old newspaper

you'll find a photograph: yourself.

 

 

©2015 John Hartley Williams

 

 

Author Links

 

Books by John Hartley Williams at Shoestring Press

John Hartley Williams obituary (The Guardian)

John Hartley Williams memorial page

 

 

 

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