Chattels

The door is locked and the key turns like a knife in the door,

Unread letters and junk mail litter the hall as I enter.

In the living room, my picture hangs proudly above the grate,

A tea-stained mug sits on the sideboard next to your pen.

Your reading glasses sit snug in the cubby hole of the cabinet,

What were once your eyes, now reduced to glassy pearls.

Even with your blood-rushed head you left the important papers

On the marbled coffee table we bought you one birthday.

Beside them are handwritten envelopes addressed to the grandchildren,

No doubt a parting gift of a tenner or two, like the money

You used to give me to buy ice-cream from the singing van,

“One screwball please, and a ninety-nine for my Father.”

Somehow you are still here, a presence in the house,

Transformed into a smoky scent, heavy on your armchair.

Sheet music sits at the piano in the corner like you once did,

A faint tune chimes from the dusty coral keys.

Ingrained into the walls, the foundations of a well-lived life

Scattered amongst loved, yet unwanted gifts from us all.

Ascending the stairs is strange without your calling after me,

“Check for damp in my bedroom” – you thought I was an expert.

Spilled onto the bed are the peculiar contents of your bedside drawer,

Old watches, fancy lighters, a half-started diary, nail clippers.

Oak tallboys burst with your old shirts and ties and leather shoes,

Donate them to a charity shop, they’re of no use to me.

I smile as I find a photo album, pictures from my childhood.

The album with a dustsheet of dust, occupied with changed moments,

Now more important, which have plucked small treasures of our time together

And a backhand that all the time we had is all we’ll ever have.

I take what I want from your bookshelves and your cupboards,

Mostly to remember you by, a reminder in the strangest things.

The house becomes a raided clam as I load the last of your belongings into the car,

One last look and I twist the key in the door and lose you to your sleep.

 

– Daniel Williams

Catch

Comfortably dilated by the lights my spying eyes follow the beams through the dark, spinning their vision webs of jet trails cutting across the room. My mouth grows numb. Squinting, my marbled beads invite the buzzers into my white par-lured web. Salty tear-drops land on the stretched sea-silk girders, preying for me to spare them the demure tools of catching a catch and of flying a find and of wrapping a chord of woven silver around their clovered pretty plum enticed onto my sweetened shelf. I sit, perched on the dainty balcony, and orchestrate a falsified dance of stone-white embraces, a waltz of loveless sparring between ourselves in rivers of lustful reddened brown, as fighters do. Wincing at the climatic demise of what we have shared, but still, devouring continues. In a diamond haze, we sink together in my delightful den, tonight we dined together, a party of two. Digested, we become one.

 

– Daniel Williams

Winter’s Beach

Rolling furiously at the sand,

The sea moves through the thick fog,

A clump of seaweed somersaults,

Turning over in the murk.

 

Teeming rock pools attract birds,

Teasing them down from the jagged cliffs.

The tormenting waves smash like white horses

Down onto the black rocks,

Deafening the beach.

 

Three shadows dance along the sand,

The salted riptide echoes through their voices.

Soft, coral lips part and call out warmly

Against the chill.

 

Their movements sleek,

Choreographed by the wind,

Clapping, splashing, piercing,

The cold water burns

The feet of the innocent,

Making once peach skin,

As white as the waves.

The tall shadows become embers

And burn into the evening ice.

 

 – Daniel Williams

An Empty Screw

It was never quite the same, you and me.

The party finished, you in that black dress,

Me with my weakened heart, left empty.

Watching the stars and lying on dry grass;

In turn the night would wither and we’d screw

Around the back of the house, by the well.

 

We loved the danger, both of us un-well,

Everybody was, especially me.

I dreamt they said ‘Why him, he’s got a screw

Loose’ but still you let me take off your dress.

Like winter with the dying of the grass

My head, like my broken heart, was empty.

 

Since you left, I’ve tried to fill my empty

Self, once more to look relatively well

Again. But just like cutting the long grass,

One day it will grow again and break me.

I found a picture of you in that dress,

That peculiar night we snuck off to screw.

 

Tell me, did you do what they said and screw

Him too? I bet you left him as empty

As you left me, and even wore that dress.

Without as much as a lousy farewell,

You walked away that night, leaving just me,

Nothing to catch my tears but the dry grass.

 

I shed myself that night, dampened the grass

And felt shame for our dirty drunken screw.

It can never be the same, you and me,

Because I know that we are both empty.

Now we are just pretending to be well,

Pretending to fit into that black dress,

 

Oh, that unforgettable, tight, black, dress.

So now I stand alone, on frozen grass,

No stars now, it’s cloudy, I’m still not well.

I’ve tried to help, to tighten the loose screw,

A cry for help, I still feel so empty,

When you left I think you also took me.

 

In my lightest dreams, well, there’s still no me,

No dress, no you, only cracked shells, empty.

In turn the grass withers, me, a lost screw.

 

– Daniel Williams

 

1 of 2 of my poems included in Cheval 10, an anthology of poems and stories written by Welsh writers.

Available to buy here: https://www.parthianbooks.com/products/cheval-10