Two Poems / by William Ward Butler

Stupid Ocean

I don’t know why the ocean is stupid,
but it is. Maybe it’s the way it returns

to a shore that does not want it. How
it hammers its name into the cliff-face

as if the rocks have never heard of it.
Stupid, lonely ocean covers 70% of

this entire world just to be noticed.
Dumb ocean wants to make friends

but won’t stop screaming in the night.
Selfish ocean takes and takes until

there are cities in its stomach, until
it coughs up glass on beaches

like knocked-out teeth. No matter
how terrible you feel, you will never

be as sad as the ocean, which
so desperately wants to be loved

but cannot stay still long enough
for anything to love it back.





Newton's First Law of Motion
            after Matthew Olzmann

Objects at rest will remain at rest
unless acted upon by an outside force.
William Butler is an object at rest, and will
remain at rest, stoned on the couch watching
videos of David Blaine swallowing kerosene
after he tells the audience, So we all agree
this is actually what it appears to be
, will praise
the bearded man for storing fuel inside the belly
before it is forced out to start a fire, will be
awestruck, will recognize David Blaine as
an outside force, will never know what it means
to risk life for the sake of art, will circumnavigate
the word endurance and apply it to the most
meaningless of actions, will wonder how much room
legacy takes up inside the stomach, will remain at rest,
will doubt the existence of God but will recognize
the miracle of a man dying to be remembered,
the act of swallowing made into an impossible thing.





William Ward Butler studies literature, creative writing, and education at the University of California, Santa Cruz where he's Co-Editor-in-Chief for the literary magazine Chinquapin and the satirical paper Fish Rap Live! You can find him online at: