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  • The Field, and: Tabula Rasa, and: In the Open Wound of the World, and: Blade Set to Tear Away the Good Flesh
  • Phillip B. Williams (bio)
  • The Field
  • Phillip B. Williams (bio)

The battered field is hateful without remorse, is as seductive as what is familiar: a wild horse who long ceased being horse, had become beauty itself

failing as the field has failed or someone has failed the field with overuse, the gray soil too sparse, its blond grass in tight nubs and stiff as scimitars

that jut from the earth declarations of war. The barrenness cannot feed the hares who feed the foxes who feed the bloodlust of men.

There is a dead dogwood stunted in its naked reach. A storm rolls over the jagged boughs that rake the soft belly

of the blackened air until lightning clarifies its scars. Scimitars could scar a belly with their sharpness, with their curves like a gleaming succubus

sliding on each nerve’s nylon until the harp is undone. Or the harp is played to the tune wind makes undressing in an arid field. This is love

if someone says so. A man weeps to soft music in his house though nothing can hear him outside his window, his mouth

like a ripple in a pond after a frog leaps out then leaps back in, a word spoken by mistake that the speaker wants to take back. [End Page 63]

The word could be like love too if broken, more broken than the shrill gate outside swinging open then shut, obliterating entrance

and exit. Here waits the god whose flute reveals and hides the way. She is mischievous with her song coming off the rusted hinges. The gate is flanked

by two stone pillars both topped with pots that once held lavender but now hold moldy soil, one sweet smell deposed by another. Rot

and the bones left bare is the story of the hare and fox while the felled horse crafts the field’s ugliness, its ghost hooves crushing the ground. Let the gate

squeal shut against that bestiary. The world’s revision of itself roils through the sky. Storm of bruised clouds, lightning and the last living beast

revealed in bursts: first its outline. Next its distant maw made clear in that moment of light. Then two golden eyes, an abacus by which to count the days. [End Page 64]

Phillip B. Williams

Meet the Author
“These poems came in a blur during the months of September and October of last year. What began as a composition wholly in response to an unnameable urgency quickly revealed itself as fueled by an ongoing project of mine involving creating new myths for our contemporary moment. So much of our life is rich with questions, and we often assume that there are answers, or we may even force answers onto what is mostly mysterious, especially the ways that we move through and interpret the world.

“But that only explains a selection of these poems. There was also in this time period the need to say things more plainly, to be as forthcoming as possible about how the -isms of our lives are lost in theory and rhetoric, such that the impacts various forms of terrorism have on people and their bodies are lost. There are physical repercussions and measurable losses. Fewer and fewer response pieces and essays seem invested in thinking about how culpable we all are as observers, as ones who document our distance from those who suffer without acknowledging said distance. I wanted to take the time to assay how innocence is perhaps itself a mythology and one that could, once dissected, enliven the ways that we interact with one another.”

Phillip B. Williams is a Chicago, Illinois, native. He is the author of the book of poems Thief in the Interior (Alice James Books, 2016). He is a Cave Canem graduate and received scholarships from Bread Loaf Writers Conference and a 2013 Ruth Lilly Fellowship. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Boston Review, Callaloo, the Kenyon Review, Poetry, the Southern Review, West Branch and others. Phillip received his MFA in writing from Washington University in St. Louis...


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