Three Poems / by Isaac Williams

Coordinates of Wednesday

Wednesdays move slowly even when
you wake up at three. They’re a day

of routine, of maintenance. I scan self-help
books for the problem of the day. I am a car

to fix. This is what Wednesdays are for: identifying,
ruminating, puzzling. Thinking of what I always think of

when asked What’s your biggest secret?
in party games. Like it can be only one thing.

Amateurs. The W in Wednesday stands for
wondering. Enough to fill a balloon.







Apartment hunting is lonely without
you. The apartments in the city are
boxy and cement-facing. Basement
units with Mexican tile. 

I assume I’ll move
into an empty unit, no furniture
but a matted mattress and pillars of poetry.

You and I were supposed to live together,
bundled in the forest like twin matches.
When I saw you last, we followed a dirt path
through the shadowy woods, passing laughing couples
and children. The loss of wandering, following a path,
is the surest sign that you're on your own.

I flew home, promising I’d never return to
San Francisco, but was back in six months.
I worry I’ll never find somewhere else
I love or hate so much. 

I wonder what I’m always wondering: 
why I’m here and not there. 
I wring my hands and neck wondering why.
The streams run like mud here. 
There are no deer.
Sirens like confetti all night.

The men in LA are like the apartments:
expensive, beautiful, empty.
I want something that could eat me alive
but won’t. Leering over a newspaper at me.
Licking his lips. Folding his shadow
into the imprint of a blade.






An annual credit report

My mother brings me
to her new apartment after
a Sunday matinee.
Overlooking a freeway
overlooking the water, the hallways
are wrapped in modern white light,
a firm gauze invading the air.

As she steps inside, she tells me
about her new play. She’s been working
with a guy named George who she says
looks really queer but you can never really tell
in theater these days—

She crosses the carpet, her legs two knitting needles,
and opens the shades. Light tumbles onto the sofa, 
the television set, a blown glass vase she bought
from a street festival she coordinated
from a bank’s top floor office, the object
strung as if glass could have bones,

and I remember that Wells Fargo used
to mail things other than credit card bills. 
I imagine the ensuing highway robberies, 
envelopes spilling onto Californian sand
while men’s heels kick up
blood and debris. 
Messages from aunts and grandmothers, 
fascinators, co-conspirators, American regionalists
tear and muddy
under the feet of riflemen. 

Some bruising, the birth and expulsion
of skin that will swell and burst,
a real war of a situation, all over
the presumed value of pressed paper.

As my mother looks my way, 
I squeeze the movie ticket in my pocket
and remember the way the projection’s glow slipped
over her features
and the way those frames scrap with the ones
a friend drowns in developer
only a few miles away
in a photo lab near Lake Merced.

When she clears the blinds, my mother breaks
everything—the light blanks the filaments of glass ornaments
and clips the edges of objects until images lose
the thin black lines
that separate some of everything from the rest;

in the desert, a man sneezes before drawing
his gun; another ducks before the big bang
of it all—

in a relief of brightness
the shape of my mother’s own body
goes just as quickly.





Isaac Williams studies English at UCLA. His poetry can be found in Punchnel's, The Nervous Breakdown, Poetry Quarterly, and elsewhere.