Transcript: Poems on Air, Episode 33 - Phillip B. Williams

[Music intro]

LYNNE THOMPSON: Hello! My name is Lynne Thompson, Poet Laureate for the City of Los Angeles and I’m so happy to welcome listeners to this installment of Poems on Air, a podcast supported by the Los Angeles Public Library. Every week, I’ll present the work of poets I admire, poets who you should know, and poets who have made a substantial and inimitable contribution to the art and craft of poetry.

LYNNE THOMPSON: As I continue to celebrate and give thanks for new poetry collections, I’m happy to highlight the recently-published Mutiny by Phillip B. Williams. Mr. Williams had been reading from his collection for a few months before the book’s release so I couldn’t wait to read all of the po-ems and they did not disappoint. Williams is familiar to Southern California’s literary com-munity as the winner of Claremont Graduate University’s Kate Tufts Award as well as a Lambda Award for his first book Thief in the Interior. He is the recipient of a Whiting Award and a Ruth Lilly Fellowship and teaches at Bennington College.

LYNNE THOMPSON: Today’s poem is "Final Poem for My Father Misnamed In My Mouth" by Phillip B. Williams.

Final Poem for My Father Misnamed In My Mouth

Sunlight still holds you and gives
your shapelessness to every room.
By noon, the kitchen catches your hands,
misshapen sunrays. The windows
have your eyes. Taken from me,
your body. I reorder my life with
absence. You are everywhere now
where once I could not find you
even in your own body. Death means
everything has become
possible. I’ve been told I have
your ways, your laughter haunts my mother
from my throat. Everything
is possible. Fatherlight
washes over the kitchen floor.
I try to hold a bit of kindness
for the dead and make of memory
a sponge to wash your corpse.
Your name is not addict or sir.
This is not a dream; you died
and were buried three times. Once,
after my birth. Again, against
your hellos shedding into closing doors,
your face a mask I placed over my face.
The final time, you were beneath my feet. Was I
buried with you then? I will not call
what you had left anything
other than gone and sweet perhaps. I am
not your junior, but I fell in love
with being your son. Now what? Possibility
was a bird I once knew. It had one wing.

LYNNE THOMPSON: The Los Angeles Poet Laureate was created as a joint program between the City’s Depart-ment of Cultural Affairs and the Los Angeles Public Library and this podcast will be available on the Library’s website. In the future, episodes will be available on iTunes, Google, and Spotify. Thanks for listening!

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  • DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a certified or verbatim transcript, but rather represents only the context of the class or meeting, subject to the inherent limitations of real-time captioning. The primary focus of real-time captioning is general communication access and as such this document is not suitable, acceptable, nor is it intended for use in any type of legal proceeding. Transcript provided by the author.