- My very newest poems from 2014: I hate bad poetry. That's why I'm happy not to be making it! I think Mary Oliver has finally sunken in. I think the words are finally flowing once again
- My poems from early 2014: I seem to be starting this new year with a muffled, distant boom rather than a boisterous bang
- My poems from 2013: I so hope you enjoy a few of them . . . they're the best so far, I believe. I certainly could be wrong. I read Mary Oliver and humbly seek to learn how
- My Poems in 2012: and who's Rita Dove?
- More poems, 2001-02: more recent poems, including one for Elvin Jones
- My early poetry, 1976-77: the creation of a poem can still be an act of defiance, of irreverence, of hope, of love, of protest: it can also be an act of pure incompetence . . . it is a precarious art form
Poetry by Jessica Williams—1976-77
by the wind
of the words;
everything I do
does me, too
between the earth
between the earth and the sky and the sea
there are many beings that call themselves me;
they're the children of my birth
and vie for my total affection-
each one is precious and pure,
and each one is totally, completely me
remembering that life
remembering that life is a series of moments,
all at once and each for all eternity,
i hear harmony in the stillness and singing in the silence.
i hear water.
the water is always in the same place, and yet always it moves,
always it seeks, always it sounds and shapes its own passage,
and tomorrows are washed ashore borne on the waves of every
remembering that we are water, and that we are always in the same place yet always in motion,
and that we are eternal,
nothing can break our inner knowing or separate our end from our
beginning . . .
and life can end, and begin again, and the music can keep playing,
and the sea can keep singing, and the world can keep becoming, and
infinite tomorrows can continue to be borne on the tides of unending
a kitten's purr
A kitten's purr,
an ocean's roar,
in a soft spring breeze.
The buzzing of an insect,
a frog at 4 am!
I want to stay here
and hear the
song of earth,
somewhere in the lotus sutra,
buried amid thickets of eastern scrabble,
a reference is made to a
all the leaves that have fallen,
all the leaves that will fall,
all the falling gives me vertigo.
of that peaceful canopy of
grace and quiet power
that held me rapt and silent
for what seemed like
half an hour,
i begin to suspect that it has
just changed my life
the end came while
the end came while
millions of different
gave up the ghost and
just plain went away
neat periodic-table-stuff like
cesium and strontium 90
got snuck into our H20 and
we didn't even have to pay
a dividend for dreamers as
forests fell like rain
and holes were torn in the
brown and broken sky
air stuck to windowpanes
and the whole place
prepared to die
but at least
we were asleep
these are the thundering skies
These are the thundering skies of america,
bound to her soul by pillar and post,
locked in the soil by the blood of her hosts,
etched in her granite by fears and by hates
reaching down to her bedrock and tectonic plates,
screaming for future on destiny's shore
st a gge r in g, standing and falling,
whining and winning, crying and calling!
Aged imperfection can easily die,
under the blighted and sprawling american sky.
bend a note like monk
bend a note like monk
make the sound of a gong (there's a way)
play a seamless 2-octave chromatic scale in less than a second
this is a dare
waiting for hope
'Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.' - George Bernard Shaw
I'm waiting for the easy smiles on busy city streets again,
waiting for the leering to stop and the flirting to begin again.
I'm waiting for the sound of someone practicing the saxophone down the street—
not really all that good yet, but with a dream in mind.
And you can hear the belief, the faith, the aspiring to a far-off goal.
And I'm waiting for some of the ozone layer to come back!
I'm waiting to hear some good news about space.
We're going to Mars again? Good! It's about time!
I'm waiting to hear that people are being fed again, that war is over for good,
and that the children of the future won't have to use oxygen tanks
and radiation suits to go outside to play.
Every time I turn on the TV, I see a red-faced, angry, shouting white man,
accusing someone of doing something or of not doing something or of
being alive or of not yet being dead yet or something,
and a team of blonde white women agreeing with him.
I keep seeing men with no lips and no love in their eyes,
women, likewise lipless, loathing behind their eyes.
I hear a shrill wail, a continuous thready rant that runs behind every word,
every gesture and every shifty-eyed nuance,
behind every lie or accusation or call to justice or appeal for harsher punishment.
I see quiet priests behind blind dead eyes who are not going to jail,
for crimes that are unspeakable, while others get 25 to life for being black or poor
or for using the wrong kind of cocaine.
I sense a presence.
It's like smoke.
It's more than a chimera.
It casts shadows . . .
Men and women with no lips, no love, but fear moves like smoke behind their eyes.
So I am waiting for hope, for lips to come back.
Music helps me hold it my own,
and my friends help me keep it, and my family is the best reason not to let it get away.
But you might know what I mean. I'm sure you know—
I am waiting for hope to come back to the world.
all of us fall back
all of us fall back into the background noise
that is really the echo of the
but once we start we can't stop going
up and down the entropy slope/
...see, you and i are monopoles
beacons in the dark
communicating across parsecs;
(star stuff speaks if given time and the proper conditions;
given enough time, it speaks of love)
so now, at least we'll slip back into the
quiet roar of creation
knowing each other
holding each other/
giving each other
Being old doesn't make you automatically wise; it just makes you old -JW
Over the years, one says or writes a very few lines that might be considered as worth remembering, if only to be used as canon-fodder to fire a needed salvo across a deserving miscreant's port bow.
I've uttered or written a few memorable one-liners in my time here, and the only problem with that is trying to remember a few of them! I'm sure the best of them are gone forever. Here's a few that I do remember . . .
1 Part of getting older is knowing what to do when the pharmacies are closed.
2 Women are expected to have 'alibis' for being creative.
3 Big gigs are concerts; little gigs are gigglings. Having no gigs is being gigless.
4 When I play I give people 'surcharge amnesia'. If there's any one reason I'm a successful musician it is this: I play music simply and to the point and it hypnotizes people and makes them forget about surcharges.
5 Jazz poodles say 'wow, this player is fast'. Yes, and they said that about Doc Holiday just before his head exploded, an event triggered by someone else being slightly faster.
6 As for any jazz musicians who think that they are 'famous' (lordy, what an incredible leap for the human mind to make!) and think that playing an instrument really really fast makes you a musician: Save up and get a life!
7 My duty, as defined by me, is to bring all sacred acts unscarred and unsullied through to the last day of my life, in pristine condition, ready for trade-in.
8 I think that what distinguishes us from other primates is our inherent ability to play a few wailing choruses of 12-bar, B flat blues. No, I don't really believe that.
9 Getting older is like always having a mild case of the flu . . . that's what it feels like to me.
10 I think that's it's a myth that we all have jobs to do, all of the time. I think it's perfectly OK to do nothing at all.
11 I think It's more important to be a musician than to be a pianist.
12 Your dreams are your sacred truth.
13 Anything that gives one an opportunity to experience Sartre's 'nausea' without actually reading Sartre is probably a good thing.
14 An individual can sacrifice for the good of others.
15 It is unavoidable to be sometimes beaten down by others . . . it is never ok to be beaten down by yourself.
16 Genius does what it must. Talent does what it wants.
17 Everything I do does me, too.
All poetry Jessica Williams, JJW Publishing ©1975-2014
Poetry . . .