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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Etter

JL Williams' After Economy (Shearsman, 2017), second selection

A continuing selection of my favourite passages from JL Williams' third collection:

Dark, this desire for space.

The wasteland stained star-white.

A lake speared with dead trees

whose white trunks stab the sky.

The ribs of angels up.

from 'Desiderata Nocturne'

a raven stands in the jade grass

still as a carving in onyx

watching the blood drip out of the car

soak into the soil dye the frond-like

curls of ferns

from 'Blood on the Trees'

In order to smell the smoke in the dark room,

to know what the words mean though you don't know the words,

to recognise the name being spoken by the wind.

last stanza of 'I Enquire of You'

What molten pour will bleed

a bright river

this time? Time, whose face itself

is ours.

end of 'Paradigm'

We die in a river of salt,

light on water,

bodies white angels sunk without hate or remorse.


The sun is a river of salt,

a white scarf blowing in the desert.

from 'Good Work'

Flame-cast shadows flicker in mortal embrace.

last line of 'Letters from Home'

Each kernel is gold, has always been

swollen with milk.

No one prays. The prayer is already

here as seed, as light.

end of 'You Are the Ear'

Remember, beacon, our nights.

Only your flame keeps me stumbling through the birch wood.

last stanza of 'Ithakas'

when i walked through the mirror

and found you as a child

holding an acorn to the light

as if to see the life inside

from 'The Thousand-Petalled Night'

Shaman, he fed his son to the earth and the earth

in her sorrow ate him and thus he must be buried and must

we all be buried, become like jewels, become bounty.

last stanza of 'Bounty'

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