Skip to main content

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


Popular posts from this blog

Ed Dorn's # 22 From Twenty-four Love Poems

                                               from Jacket The strengthy message here in #22 of 24 Love Songs can be summed up in two lines: ['There is/no sense to beauty. . .' and '. . .How/ the world is shit/ and I mean all of it] What I also like about this brief poem is the interplay between the title of the book and the subject of the poems (love/anti-love (which is not hate)): it's all a mass of contradictions, like love. And I have to say that the shorter poems of the Love Songs and the last book he wrote before dying (Chemo Sábe) seem to me much better and more memorable than the Slinger/Gunslinger poems. These (generally) later poems probably attempt less stylistically, but are more sure-handed, hacked from a soap bar, maybe. Easy to use, but disappear after use. In any case, Dorn is well worth the reading and re-reading, for me, though he'll never become one of my favorites. And doesn't every poet want that, dead or alive? ;-) #22 The agony

Mike James

 The River’s Architecture for Louis McKee, d. 11/21/11 The river has a shape you follow with your whole body: shoulder, footstep, and ear- those who know how to listen hear how river wind is like breath, alive in lung and line. Mike James makes his home in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He has published in hundreds of magazines, large and small, and has performed his poetry at universities and other venues throughout the country. He has published over 20 collections and has served as visiting writer at the University of Maine, Fort Kent. His recent new and selected poems, Portable Light: Poems 1991-2021, was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His last collection, Back Alley Saints at the Tiki Bar, was published in April by Redhawk. He currently serves as the Poet Laureate of Murfreesboro, TN.

Jim Daniels

Half Days My daughter, thirteen, pale shred of herself, fought an unidentified infection in her spine as it softened her discs into disappearance. I’d unread that story if she were young and still listened to lullabies. After she got discharged, I set an alarm for two a.m. each night to shoot antibiotics into her port while she slept, her limp arm resting in my hand. Her return to school: half days—follow my dotted line smearing across months of sleepless breadcrumbs— at noon I idled high, anxious in the school driveway rattling off the latest test results in the zero gravity of fear. She startled me with the brittle thunk of the car door slam, then snapped at me for staring at her friends as they strolled across the street to the cafeteria, creeping them out, she said, embarrassed by illness like hard acne or a blooming hickey, wrong music or flakey hair, or the tacky middle-school jumper she no longer had to wear. I was there to drive her to