Curse 6 – Oil & Water

I don’t question the rats
their quick strokes through fields,
through alleys. Something hidden
in an emptied can of soup, a beast
licking what’s left from its lips. I don’t judge
the rat its hunger, or the ecstatic cat
bounding in a vacant lot with a tail dangling
from its mouth. The dog with the loud
growl gets tossed old meat sooner
than the dog with the patient whine.
The shut mouth never gets fed. The agile
pounce at the right angle, never right
without practice. What hungers you
so that your knees replace your feet,
eyes so distant with desire you see
yourself coming quickly back around
for another taste before the first is had?
Behind my garage, two men sucking
wildly knock over my garbage cans, and run
away from the sound of their hunger, the not-
yet-used-to echo of such hollow shame.
from 40 Curses and a Prayer
Phillip B. Williams was born 1986 in Chicago. He is the author of the chapbooks Bruised Gospels (Bloom Books, 2011) and Burn (YesYes Books, 2013). Williams is a Cave Canem graduate and the poetry editor of the online journal Vinyl Poetry. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Blackbird, Callaloo, Kenyon Review Online, Painted Bride Quarterly, The Southern Review, West Branch and others. Williams is currently a Chancellor’s Graduate fellow at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri and is working on his MFA in creative writing. He was named one of five recipients of the 2013 Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship which provides a $15,000 scholarship to encourage the further study and writing of poetry among poets between the ages of 21 and 31.