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David L. Williams


Dylan’s desk did not stay vacant long,
Though I know it got stared at emptily
A short while, till it got reshuffled back
In line with other daily absurdity.

He’d been a quiet kid, and had no friends
That I could tell, but of the pleasant kind
Who did his homework, stayed out of the way,
Polite enough in ways we teachers liked.

I never got to know him very well,
Grading his papers, making pleasantries
That daily went by virtually unnoticed
As Dylan did, almost in secrecy.

Not bothering others, he got left alone,
So it’s no big surprise that no one knew him,
And none of us knew much about his family
As we discovered sadly on that day.

Administration promptly filled me in
Before the first bell rang, and now the kids
Had filed in, edging around his desk,
Then sitting quietly, and so I guessed

They’d heard the news, at least from one another.
Surprisingly, there wasn’t any comments.
From what we knew, there wasn’t much to say;
Eerily gone, with his entire family.

His empty desk seemed awkwardly out of place,
And in my usual routine taking roll,
I made note of his absence, hurrying past
From what that morning’s headlines had disclosed.

Some family had been away with friends,
But Dylan’s dad had gone out of his way
To call them home, and got them all alone,
Convening them into a single room

As for some secret, solemn family conference,
With consequences unbeknownst to them
Until he stepped out, came back with his gun,
Then shot them dead, saving a final bullet

For his own head. I’m still not sure
How anyone found out, or even when;
The unknowns that had most befriended Dylan
Now followed him, even beyond his end,

And as before, he keeps to his own self
Concealed in some small space, as an unseen
Enigma no one ever asks about
And no one assigns homework to find out.

David L Williams retired 6 years ago after 34 years of teaching high school English in Lincoln, Nebraska, his primary residence since he went to college there in the 80s. Almost all his poetry has been written since May of 2021.  He’s managed to publish half a dozen poems so far, in as many journals, but others have been accepted elsewhere for the near future. This will be his first poem published which is not a sonnet. For inspiration, David enjoys sitting on the two steps leading to their patio and looking out back. He shares home with his 30 year living partner, Mary, who unknowingly models for some of his poems. More about David and his poetry at


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