Roscoe and the Seagulls

The blur of fur
across the sand
rises the colony
into air’s safety

Golden retriever’s joyous bark
contrasts
the angry cry of seagulls

Roscoe realizes the birds
won’t play,
so he surges off

The gulls fly to a safer part
of the beach
to continue their debate
over which novel about
seafaring is the best


copyright © 2021 Dave Williams

Is a Poem about Grains of Sand on a Beach too Pretentious?

I was wondering that question,
lying on a floral beach towel,
a speck in a crowd
of swimsuited people—
all of us lumps of cookie dough
glazed with sunscreen and coconut oil
baking in this oven.

I lift a handful of sand,
watch the grains
cascade in the spaces
between my fingers,
thinking there’s
got to be metaphors
for time, uniqueness, perseverance—
maybe insignificance
if you’re in that kind of mood.

But above the ocean,
a small plane flies before us,
towing a banner
advertising a restaurant’s
all-you-can-eat buffet,
and the sand falls from my hand,
forgotten.


copyright © 2021 Dave Williams

Bike Flights

We took turns
pedaling our bikes
to the boardwalk’s edge
jumped off
too-brief moment of flight
two boys without wings

The goal was to let go
of your bike in the air,
so you’d land separately
on the beach

One time I failed,
to land entangled
with my bike,
but the pain was worth
the flying and memories

Seeing ‘Paterson’

A street in Paterson, New Jersey, with stores on either side and traffic on the street.
Paterson, NJ (2014) by Jared Kofsky/Wikimedia Commons

A quiet movie of people’s (mostly) quiet lives, showing how a person’s outward appearance can project nothing of their inner life — that a bus driver composes poetry in his head while shuttling passengers from stop to stop — that a cupcake baker also enjoys painting black-and-white patterns around the house and wants to learn how to play guitar — that people can have the urge to craft their thoughts and feelings into a form of art, like a guy practicing a rap in a laundromat; the people we see in life and might not pay much attention to them (waiters, shop clerks, fast food restaurant cashiers), so little attention that they are forgettable the moment we walk away from them — how these people, within the routines of their lives, can harbor deep creativeness that may not make them rich and famous but can make them rich in expression by forming artworks that are inspired by their heroes and have their personal touches (from experiences, opinions), so no other artwork has ever been created that exactly, uniquely matches the one now being crafted.


copyright © 2021 Dave Williams

Mediterranean Philosopher (‘Ulysses’ pages 671-732)

Photo of a sailboat on the sea, with a storm approaching.
by Boba Jovanovic/Unsplash

This is the last poem in the project, as we’ve reached the last page of the Dover edition of Joyce’s Ulysses. As luck would have it, the words lent themselves to come up with a poem about Odysseus and his journey home. Well, very roughly about the journey. And, who knows, maybe one of the sailors on the ship was named Raymond.


Mediterranean philosopher
bearing formidable years:
migrations on windy sea.

Land leavetaking,
recurrent snakespiral movement
with smellow course,
everchanging travelled.

Wonder somewhere,
he lost the ways,
madly crossing where
tattarrattat music
(like breathing)
brought trouble,
snapped careless men.

Shake possessed sailors:
awokwokawok!

Captain, winds going crookeding miles,
whistling badtempered.
“Sweet horror!” said Raymond.

Castoffs sing moon heart.
Fish dances,
telling of universe deepdown.

Imperfect, the Spoonseat (‘Ulysses’ pages 620-670)

Photo of a school of fish
by Lance Anderson/Unsplash

Imperfect, the spoonseat:
wooden profundity,
metamorphoses to inverted basket.

Possible amusement:
fish on bicycles
excelled in world’s wheels games.
Power race!

Theoretical catastrophe:
Harry cut time,
making hour suppressed.

Turningpoint of nightblue atmosphere:
luminous constellations rendered unstable.
space furled, unfolded in design.
Inverted days!
Unhooked minutes!

Parrot countrybound:
course to discovery.

Soapsuddy Mind (‘Ulysses’ pages 569-619)

Photo of many soap bubbles floating in the air.
by Drew Beamer/Unsplash

Soapsuddy mind
blissfully was suggestive
without inquisitive.

Narcotic bamboozled specimen just sits.
Eggsniping scheme to study
habitually becalmed personage.

Authority was Sherlockholmesing people.
Enhances consumption
of uncertain information:
pseudo “truth.”
Brain vagaries, mind change.

Though insuppressible folk
upsetting the course:
doubt questioned propaganda.
“Utopian” society
possessed peril
to muchneeded upright life.


Note: This poem doesn’t immediately follow the previous poem’s page numbering because before this poem are a couple of blank pages and the start of Part III.

Onions Ramble, Squabbling (‘Ulysses’ pages 517-565)

A person dressed all in black and masked is holding a golden crown
by Lians Jadan/Unsplash

Onions ramble, squabbling,
carries wise dog
that thought,
I smells peaches. Yumyum!

Whokilla the laughing king?
Onions?
Noise?
Jauntyhatted cavaliers?
Groangrousegurgling sailor from Dalkey?

Sending police:
the ickylickysticky mystery,
thick afraid for country,
provokes gallows.
Deathflower for king.

Police revealing townsmen
towards witness.
Muttering citizen:
“Virag looms, tinkling secret.”