Patrick Williams

Patrick Williams is a poet and academic librarian living in Central New York. His recent work appears in publications including Noble/Gas Qtrly, Posit, Glittermobs, and Heavy Feather Review. His chapbook Hygiene in Reading (Publishing Genius, 2016) was awarded the 2015 Chris Toll Memorial Prize. He edits Really System, a journal of poetry and extensible poetics. Find him at patrickwilliamsintext.com and on Twitter @activitystory.

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Impersonation

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You are the ice menace

on Lincoln Highway

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You are the industrial accident

on Broadway sidewalk space

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You are special methods

for tabulating hotel tax

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You are the standard rules

for land transfer

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You are financial relief

for military training

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You are an electric sign

announcing mayors’ salaries

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You are flood preparations

around Ten Mile Creek

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You are the storm door

at the pool room

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You are an iron box

behind the nitrate plant

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You are the signpost

outside the watchman’s house

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You are newspapers and the war

but you are planning for peace

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Manual Random Hill

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The sediment of our sweat is profound

privilege, an oblique form of fortune.

We painted our portrait in petroleum

jelly together. Its surface lasted four

hours, but beneath it: more like forever.

Who forced your fall in the traffic’s path?

A scraped palm will always look filthy.

But ours are never truly filthy, that much

is clear. You & I are merely squatters

on the tiniest parcel of joint & muscle

pain. Let’s savor our common affection

for throwback diaeresis in The New Yorker.

What else could make a term like reënlist

even briefly beautiful to either one of us?

In our yard, each new bite’s a symptom,

each squeal’s a boosted song hurled up

to our friends who fill the cheapest seats,

gracious as the undersampled fanfare

that blasts each time the lotto box pays out.

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