Stephen Jarrell Williams

The pull of distance
into the street, wordless calling, smell of oak.
Backpack, sleeping bag, boots clomping on
sidewalk to the mountainside,
top world of trees and brush, high plateau
descending miles to the sea...

I had to leave home. World tipping into itself.
Young man's need to meet the other side...

Dreams of a young girl in robe and bikini
only wanting me...

Thickets snapped dry hiking through
shadows, mind distortions, triggering
a faster pace, sweating, dust coating skin,
hopeful straight line to the coast.

Her name will be Julana.

Sea waves rolling under the moon.
Standing on a cliff, beach below,
endless rows of waves over black waters.

Animal path leading
to a distant house of glass and columns.
Dark interior stairways to closed doors.

Perhaps a radical scientist living inside,

On the jut of cliff
extraordinary tree:
roots, trunk, span of branches reaching

I snuck past the tall house, glass silent.
Climbed gnarled roots
ascending into the ribcage of branches.

Tiring in the heights,
found a twist of trunks to nestle in,
staring up into the sky of branches.
Sleep came like a coma.

Thunder rocked me awake.
The great tree shaking. Earthquake.
Far below the heap of roots shaking loose,
earth giving, tree moving with the cliffside

Hugging tight,
tree roots leading, bulk of tree canopy
scraping down the cliff face.

Tangle of huge roots hitting water,
tree toppling over into the sea...

The tree floating tranquil on its side
like a ship on course away from land,
man, so-called civilization...

Days, weeks, months...
My backpack supplied a knife
for cutting wood and ties of bark,
a fishing line and assorted hooks for fish.

Built a shelter for my sleeping bag.
The tree caught handfuls of rain
in its curves for my thirst.

I swam, sunned myself,
made a game of solidarity.
Talked to the tree.
Sometimes thought she answered me.

I wondered of the world...
Perhaps I would see a plane or ship...

Holding on...
Tide taking us on a long voyage,
away from the boy and land that was...

All is memory.
All is hope.
All is the tree I dream upon,
waters stretching endlessly.

I whisper, "Julana."
Her branches and roots swaying in the sea.


Quiver of skin

taking you
under a rainstorm

windshield wipers swishing

your warm lips on my neck

in the backseat of my mind
the feel of you
peppering me with the pain of pleasure

missing you now
in an open field
car stuck in mud

years compressed

leather of my boots
still shining
the lightning you struck.


The differences

They're coming after us.

We're not saints.
They're not devils, yet.

Run for it.
I'll protect your back.

My collected anger
will topple them for a time.

See you
on the other side...

where we can't lose
our wings.

© 2010 Stephen Jarrell Williams. All rights reserved.
About the Author

Stephen Jarrell Williams loves to write, listen to his music, and dance late into the night. He was born in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. His parents are native Texans. He has lived most of his life in California. His poetry has appeared in Black Lantern Publishing, Hawaii Review, POEM, and others.
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