Speak

By Phillip B. Williams b. 1986
A storm and so a gift.
       Its swift approach
             lifts gravel from the road.
A fence is flattened in
       the course of   the storm’s
             worse attempt at language —
thunder’s umbrage. A tree
       is torn apart,
             blown upward through a bedroom
window. A boy winnows
       through the pile
             of shards for the sharpest parts
from the blown-apart
       glass. He has
             a bag that holds found edges
jagged as a stag’s
       horns or smooth as
             a single pane smashed into
smaller panes that he sticks
       his hand into
             to make blood web across
his ache-less skin flexing
       like fish gills
             O-lipped for a scream
it cannot make.
       He wants to feel
             what his friends have felt,
the slant of fear on their faces
       he could never
             recreate, his body configured
without pain. When his skin’s
       pouting welts
             don’t rake a whimper
from his mouth, he runs
       outside, arms up
             for the storm, aluminum
baseball bat held out
       to the sky
            until lightning with an electric
tongue makes his viscera
       luminescent;
             the boy’s first word for pain
       is the light’s
             new word for home.

Source: Poetry (November 2013).

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This poem originally appeared in the November 2013 issue of Poetry magazine

November 2013
 Phillip B. Williams

Biography

Phillip B. Williams was born in Chicago, Illinois. He is the author of the chapbooks Bruised Gospels (Arts in Bloom Inc., 2011) and Burn (YesYes Books, 2013). Williams is a Cave Canem graduate and the poetry editor of the online journal Vinyl Poetry. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Callaloo, Kenyon Review Online, The Southern Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, West Branch, Blackbird and others. Williams is currently a . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, The Body, Nature, Weather, Youth

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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