Two Poems by Mark Williams


Thanks to successful cataract surgery, I look into my mirror
and see a sickle-shaped scar I haven’t noticed in years.
But there it is, smiling back as if to say,
I haven’t gone anywhere.

Where I go is to my yard on Lombard Street
in Evansville, Indiana, where my six-year-old buddy
Tommy Weatherby and I are tossing my model TWA Jetstream
back and forth across our shared drive. Only this time,
instead of landing in my yard, it flies into my face,
sending me past my collie, Lassie (it’s 1957,
what did you expect?), into my house, crying.

What are the odds that Tommy’s father, Jim Weatherby,
is interning at the ER down the street, where he stitches me up
and sends me on my way? What are the odds that,
after Tommy dies from Childhood Hodgkin’s Lymphoma,
Jim and June divorce, Jim leaves town, and I grow up
and get a job playing bumper pool, Ping-Pong, and Rook
at a psychiatric hospital in Nashville,
I discover Jim Weatherby is the head man?

In the eighteen months I worked there,
Jim always seemed uneasy around me—
in the elevator, the canteen. I don’t recall
him ever mentioning Tommy or June. Sometimes,
he passed me in the hall without speaking. Now I realize
that when Jim saw me, I took him back to Lombard Street
where Tommy and June stood waiting
for him to come home.



How did it get so late so soon?
It’s night before it’s afternoon.
December is here before it’s June.
My goodness how the time has flown.
How did it get so late so soon?
—Dr. Seuss

I’d been traveling out West with my father.
We’d hiked in Glacier Park, bathed in Iceberg Lake.
In a campsite near Banff, he’d shouted, “Don’t move!”
as he ran to our car for his camera
and a bear charged the rock where I sat.

We’d taken mountain climbing instructions in the Tetons,
where our classmate, Carol Lawrence (as in
West Side Story Carol Lawrence), what with her small feet,
put Dad and me to shame. We’d climbed Hallet Peak
in Rocky Mountain Park, descended on a glacier.
But Dad had a business to run in Indiana
and I had a summer to spend.

That first night, alone in Denver, I watch Joe Buck
and Ratso Rizzo on their way to Miami.
Not exactly what you want to see, a movie
about friendship when you’re alone. Next morning,
I hitchhike south to Colorado Springs. I’m offered
LSD in the Garden of the Gods (“no, thank you”)
and find a campground a few miles west, empty
but for a few men in hard hats getting into trucks.
“Just be out of here in the morning by seven,”
one man tells me, pointing to a nearby rock face.
“We’re blasting a road through here.”

I don’t sleep well.

The next morning, just after seven, I’m walking
down a gravel road that leads to the highway—
on my way to Buena Vista
to apply for a job at a youth camp—
when at my back, an explosion,
and fifty-two years pass by.


Mark Williams’s poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Nimrod, Rattle, New Ohio Review, and elsewhere. Kelsay Books published his collection, Carrying On, in 2022. His fiction has appeared in Eclectica, The First Line, The Write Launch, and Cleaver. He lives in Evansville, Indiana.

Leave a Reply