C. McAllister Williams

It's August & Feels Like It

for Possum Holler, Virginia


Give me a satchel
full of apples,

a solution of nails &
steal the algebras for any

boy who needs it.
I’ll thief gravity

for a woodcutter’s song.
This is how I bake

my bread―two parts
scoundrel, one part

chock full of blueberry.
They grow wild out here,

tickling the clap
board with glee.

Gather them with a grape
vine & both wrists

broken; a beard & hands
wrapped with dirt.


This is a hospital. That is a room. I am brimming. This jar.

The side of my brain is dark, has its misgivings.

It is a mistake to preach to the sick. I listen.

I have the wrong type of ears. Green is not a soothing light. No light.

Call it a slide, all floaty & restless.

If the left side of a man’s face forgets itself, then we’ve got problems.

All things can be traced back in mercury. Some bodies are not meant to stay buried.


a circle of barns snow

crows collect themselves a kitchen

licks its smoke a yellow

telephone rejects its cradle a leather

holster          a door frame

the pistol is missing


there are hills the smell of dead cow a pit full of leaves & bone

the pickup bottoms out bearded men in the back smoke

it is a walking thing for most something methodical   fenced in & freshly cut

dirt is everywhere a tractor does work across the holler

a voice a strong hand ripped flannel sleeve stained teeth

there are hills tobacco is growing

sheds shut up in rust singing now a hum

a shovel does work

I am thinking of shotguns I am ashamed

this is what I come here for this is the only thing


you come up from the bridge, smelling like beard & slaughter―all lunchbox

& oilcan gleam I meet you: purple

mercurochrome & creek water call it ritual

from the porch, a cat made of rust from the tree, a shotgun

a beetle sits in the barn this morning I sat

inside of it you smile I ghost

the cancer in your breath it’s august

& feels like it


Flask of evening―a cinder
block house―sky shot
in its hole. I squirm
on the porch. Who is
king of all this mud?
Spectres, a coffin

of mauled dirt. Ghosts
seep into wood & my world
seems to be rotting. Worms
are freezing. I mean
blood. My beard is full of tulips.
My ears have no

luxury. I hear in
my sleep ultimatums: the world
is the world. Cold
is cold. Fists are fists. Hold.
Stop. Together. Stop.
Quietly vanish. Stop.


C. McAllister Williams is the author of WILLIAM SHATNER (alice blue, 2010) and Neon Augury (Fact-Simile Editions, 2011). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Copper Nickel, Ostrich Review, Sonora Review, Pinwheel, ILK, and elsewhere. He lives in Milwaukee and is former poetry editor for cream city review.


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