A Pair of Poems by Harold Whit Williams
Still Life With Graveyard And Deer
Sewanee, Tennessee 2012
These oaks are old and gnarled. On every branch
A finch or jay or wren or robin calls
In rolling mist. I stroll by Tate and crunch
The gravel path. My noise and scent enthralls
A buck and doe ahead. They’ve bedded down
Between some crosses, stones. He rises up
And faces me, his antlers just come in.
The doe stays put beside a grave, she’ll sleep
Thru heat of day. I slow my steps and look
Away and whistle “Well, You Needn’t” by Monk.
I’m near them now. The snorting buck is quick
To turn and watch me pass. I stop and think –
My camera’s in the room, I’ll miss this view.
We animals do just what we have to do.
Performing “When A Man Loves A Woman” With Percy Sledge’s Son, Flip
Tuscumbia, Alabama 1989
I barely know the song. My fingers feel
Like fuzzy okra pods as Jon asserts
His snare into the bridge. Then Flip reveals
His family genes and belts aloud those notes.
His daddy would be proud, or maybe not,
What with the moldy carpet, busted speakers,
The hangers-on of friends and girls, a lot
Of empty bottles, two musician crackers
That want to play a groove they’ll never have.
As Jon and Flipper take a break, I sit
Beside my future wife to chat and give
My plans away. She dons a funny hat
And giggles when my amplifier dies.
I hope to never sing those soulful lies.
Harold Whit Williams is a native Alabamian working in library cataloging at the University of Texas at Austin. In his spare time, he serves as guitarist for the critically acclaimed rock band Cotton Mather. His first chapbook, Waiting for the Fire to Go Out, is available from Finishing Line Press, and his poems have appeared in Atlanta Review, The Oxford American, Oklahoma Review, Slipstream and Tulane Review, among others. He was also a finalist for the New Letters Prize for Poetry 2012. Read his poem A Valdosta Pastoral, published earlier this month, here.